Get to Know a Gustie: Emma Breitenstein ’16

Posted on April 17th, 2019 by

Current Company/Organization: Jeffers Pond Elementary School in Prior Lake, MN

Job Title: 4th Grade Teacher

Grad Year: 2016

Major: Elementary Education

Hometown: Decorah, IA

Current City: Minneapolis, MN

What is your first Gustavus memory?

I first toured campus with my mom and fell in love with it. She suggested we wait a bit before making a final decision. I remember being astonished at that idea, ready to deposit that day!

What was your favorite class and/or professor and why?

Outside of my major, I surprised myself by loving my religion course. It was Religion and Ecology with Deborah Goodwin, which offered such interesting perspectives and ideas on the connection between two subjects that initially seem to clash.

In my major, I of course loved Elementary Art Methods, a chance to create with finger paints, macaroni noodles, and construction paper. I also really benefited from an Inclusive Classrooms course by Lisa Dembouski. We explored all the different exceptionalities a student might bring into the classroom and how to best accommodate for their needs. It has been such a relevant concept in every classroom I’ve had.

What do you miss most about your time as a student?

Sometimes I look at my fourth graders with such envy, getting to read fun books and play with their friends. I miss that most about Gustavus: learning neat things and constantly being around friends. Lifelong learning is a benefit of this career though, and I still get to see my Gustie pals often.

What brought you to campus the last time you visited?

I went back twice this fall! First to help with move in day and then to celebrate homecoming. Both were sweet days to be back on campus, reconnect with old friends, and soak in some nostalgia.

How has your Gustavus experience most impacted your life beyond the Hill?

Recently, our school district has been working to make our instruction and student interactions more culturally responsive. My courses at GAC, semester abroad, and work with Building Bridges and its social justice conference have given me solid background knowledge and passion to tackle this work. Gustavus showed me the huge importance of community and relationships. This is my top priority with my kids, which shapes everything we do. Once I know my students and we have a trusting, loving community, we are able to dig into our work, especially work that is culturally responsive and inclusive!

What do you most enjoy about being a Gustie alum?

It’s a blast to stay in touch with old Gustie friends, who lead me to new ones! There are some awesome Gusties at my elementary school: one who was on my fourth grade team and one whose adorable first graders we get to be a “buddy classroom” with! Even my students know how much I love Gustavus. We use Gustie cheers I learned from Greeters as call & responses or movement breaks!


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