Jen Wozniak: Leadership Team (ICC)

Raised in a suburb of Chicago, I came to Oregon in 1995 to study printmaking at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. While earning my Bachelor of Fine Art there, I taught after-school art classes. In these classes, I found that more and more of my artistic explorations with my students took me outdoors and that I was just as interested in the natural history of the tree we were drawing as in capturing its likeness. 

This realization led to me to Caldera, a nonprofit arts-based summer camp in the Cascades. My own experiences at a summer camp in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan sparked my love of nature and showed me the power of outdoor education to foster emotional growth in young people. It was at Caldera, where I experimented with integrating art education, field science, and mentoring, that I began to see myself as an educator firsthand an artist second.

After a full-time stint as a teacher and administrator at Caldera, I moved to California to teach field science at the Headlands Institute, a nonprofit environmental education institute located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. There I designed hands-on inquiry and service-learning projects to teach marine ecology and geology to visit school groups from the Bay Area.  Helping diverse populations of kids make authentic connections to environmental issues in their home communities, I found my passion.

What was missing, however, was the opportunity to build longer-term relationships with my students. I decided to take the plunge into classroom teaching upon returning home to Portland in 2006. I enrolled in the Lewis and Clark Masters in Teaching program and began an internship in the fifth grade at Catlin Gabel School. When I began looking for a school with a philosophy and approach that meshed with my experience, I found Springwater. I don’t think I could have found a better fit and am thrilled to belong to this community.