Two Teachers Celebrate 25 Years in the District

With the start of the 2020-21 school year, we would like to recognize and celebrate two staff members who have reached 25 years of employment with the District: Eric Gietzen and Bohdan Nedilsky. The level of commitment and dedication that these two have shown in our schools and classrooms is so inspiring and we are truly lucky to call them Shorewood School District employees.

Eric Gietzen

Eric started out as a Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at SIS. After a few years, he moved over to SHS and was strictly an English teacher until recently, when he picked up teaching Adventure Education.

Eric has been deeply involved in many clubs and many sports teams throughout the years as the advisor/ coach for the following:

  • SIS Kayak Building Club
  • SIS Lunch Monitor
  • SIS Boys and Girls Cross Country Coach (3 years)
  • SIS Boys and Girls Track Coach (3 years)
  • SHS Girls Cross Country Coach (7 years)
  • SHS Chinese Club Advisor
  • SHS Asian Club Advisor
  • SHS Surf Club Advisor
  • SHS Climbing Team Coach
  • SHS English Department Chair (18 years)
  • Co-creator and instructor, Watershed Wisdom (23 years)

This is what colleagues had to say about Eric:

“Many new teachers begin their career hoping to inspire and educate their students, disrupt the status quo, create new and exciting programs, and become a leader in their professional communities. That's relatively common. What is truly remarkable is a teacher that is able to remain on that cutting edge for 25 years in this profession. Eric Gietzen is perhaps singular in that regard. When Eric joined the Shorewood School District 25 years ago, it was like throwing a stone into a glassy lake, the ripples began to spread immediately: in the classroom, on the cross country course, and in the local rivers and parks that became an extension of the school building for his students. Those ripples have only continued to spread over time. 25 years into his journey through education Eric continues to grow, evolve, disrupt, and provide truly transformative experiences for his students.

Throughout his illustrious career at Shorewood Intermediate and Shorewood High School, Eric has been an exceptional English teacher, an inspirational and decorated cross country coach, English Department chair, the mastermind behind Shorewood's Watershed Wisdom program, a "Design Thinking" Fellow at UWM, an advisor to countless student organizations, and an incredible friend and colleague to everyone he's worked with. He has developed a voice and a leadership style that has set the course for our educational community for years and will continue to inspire our faculty to strive for excellence in all that we do. 

Eric Gietzen is known as a teacher that is inspired by nature, but he's much more than that. In the educational world, he's a force of nature. Eric has profoundly impacted the lives of hundreds of young people and has created educational and experiential opportunities that have shaped his students lives and truly changed them for the better. As his colleague I have witnessed his transformative teaching practices. I have watched as his students make new and profound connections between the content of the course and the content of their character. I have seen him deftly guide his students through the literal rapids of the Milwaukee River and the figurative rapids of their lived experience. And I have heard the incredible poetry and prose his students create as they reflect upon those shared experiences. Eric Gietzen's educational legacy is profound. 

Finally, Eric is fond of saying that ‘transformation can happen when we introduce people to a campfire, mild peril, and a shared meal.’ In the course of the last 25 years, Shorewood High School has learned that that's true, but that transformation is even more likely when you add a fourth element to that mix... Eric Gietzen. We are so incredibly lucky to have him. And on behalf of all the students that have been lucky enough to have Eric as a teacher or coach, thank you, the work you do is truly remarkable!” 

Bohdan Nedilsky
Bohdan started out as the Varsity head coach for boys/girls soccer back in 1992 but joined the teaching team in 1995 as an educator for the Learning Disabilities program at SHS. He was in that role for two years before switching to the Title 1 program director/educator at SHS for the next 8 years. In 2006, he became the instructional director for the New Horizons Charter High School and still serves in that role today.

In addition to his director duties, Bohdan has given a number of scholarly presentations and has a long history of educational and community service. Some of the collaborative projects he's been involved in during his years with Shorewood include:
  • Harambee Peace Park Project, partner
  • Shorewood School District Visioning Team, facilitator
  • Shorewood District Differentiating Inquiry Team, co-chair
  • North Park University Practicum Partnership, guest lecturer
  • Cathedral Women’s Shelter, Urban Garden Partnership, facilitator
  • Milwaukee School of Engineering, Milwaukee Urban Renaissance Partnership, facilitator          
  • Sweet Water Organics, Aquaponics, Urban Agriculture, and Composting Partnership, facilitator
  • Victory Garden Initiative, Concordia Gardens Partnership, supervisor
  • Texas Bufkin Academy, Aquaponics Partnership, supervisor 

This is what colleagues had to say about Bohdan:

“As the Instructional Director for New Horizons for Learning Charter School, Dr. Bohdan Nedilsky was ‘Authentic Learning’ before it was cool. Understanding that, educationally speaking, one size does not fit all, he co-created a school-within-a-school that focused on drawing out the unique talents of each student by getting them out into the community to work and to learn while doing so. This ‘school without walls’ model continues to be the catalyst for many students who find themselves adrift in the traditional school system, allowing them to achieve personal and academic success that previously eluded them. 

Without a doubt, within his 25-year tenure, Bohdan has inspired countless young people with his infectious enthusiasm for learning about the world and how they can affect positive change in it. Whether it be his love of the outdoors, soccer, Reggae music, world geography games or the delicious truffles he and his wife create, Bohdan knows how to get and keep a students' attention. He is a master storyteller and some might say - okay, actually, he might say - a great joke teller.

After working alongside him for nearly a decade, I can say this for certain: Bohdan is a passionate, optimistic human being who shares his passion and optimism with his students. Many of these students have given up on school, not believing in their own potentials until they meet and begin working with Bohdan. Whether constructing a city garden, revitalizing an abandoned urban park, or building or installing Little Free Libraries, Bohdan works side-by-side with his students, who, through this collaborative work and mentorship, begin to believe in themselves and get excited about things again. Under his guidance, many students will begin to attend school on a more regular basis and begin to conduct themselves in a more mature manner, doing things they might never have imagined doing like presenting to school boards, and to the public at community fairs and to groups of college students and having lunch with visiting authors and professors at universities. 

Because while these students may have at one time given up on themselves, Bohdan never, ever gives up on them! On behalf of all those students you have guided: thank you!”

Congratulations again to both Eric and Bohdan for their dedication and commitment to the District. Thank you for all you have done for our students, staff, and schools.