Alumnus accepts invitation to speak at graduation

Saturday, May 12, 2001

Lacey, Wash. - A local high school teacher, who graduated valedictorian of his 1971 college class, will return to his alma mater May 12 to speak to graduates of Saint Martin's College.

Gery GerstGery J. Gerst will be the commencement speaker before the nearly 400 graduates of Saint Martin's Class of 2001. Commencement events will take place at 2 p.m. in the Saint Martin's Pavilion.

Gerst graduated Summa Cum Laude from Saint Martin's College in 1971 with a major in history and double major in Spanish and education. He then went to Western Washington University where he earned his master's degree in education. He has been a teacher since walking down the Grand Staircase at Saint Martin's College, having spent one year teaching middle school history and Spanish, and the last 29 years teaching history and social sciences at Olympia High School. His accomplishments as an instructor were most recently recognized when the Olympia Education Association voted him the Olympia School District's Teacher of the Year. He was also presented the Outstanding Educator Award 2000 by the Saint Martin's College education division.

Gerst designed the first women's studies course for Olympia High School after winning a Coe Fellowship to Stanford for Women's history Studies. He was the recipient of the Colonial Dames Graduate Studies Scholarship for U.S. history teachers in addition to being personally selected by the district superintendent and high school principal to be part of a master teacher cadre to design and implement methodological improvement in district schools. As a result of his work on the steering committee for the high school's 10-year accreditation study, Gerst was asked to assist three subsequent districts with their evaluations. Gerst has been on the forefront of the technological advancements in the teaching world and pioneered the school's first use of electronic grading/record keeping for teachers and the first student use of hypermedia computer presentation software. He also has been active on a variety of district-wide committees, including those responsible for the designing of an enrichment program for U.S. history, the design of first U.S. history course for special needs students and design and implementation of the district's first advanced placement courses. As a professional, Gerst also spends countless hours working with associations that further the teaching profession. He has been a union leader at the building, district, state and national level in addition to having helped negotiate the first comprehensive contract for the teachers in the Olympia School District. He was elected to NEA's national teachers' convention twice and the state teacher's convention 10 times.

For more information:
Mary Law, registrar
Office of the Registrar

Christina Ramirez-Milhoan
Office of Communication
360/438.4541 or