Get Out and Learn
The interview project in honor of Ed Cavanaugh.
1. What drew you to the GOAL program?
“I ended up picking GOAL, because it was so different. I had never heard of any program like that besides Wilderness, which they had in Daly City. So I got into Get Out And Learn, and it was a really new experience. At first I didn’t want to completely finish the program because it was really taking me out of my own comfort zone. I was not sitting behind a desk all day and when I sat and really thought about it, that was the issue I was having in public schools. I didn’t like sitting in class all day. So I sat and thought, what would I rather be doing? Sitting behind a desk all day thinking time is going by so slow or being able to explore the city and be outdoors? It made me look at things differently especially when it came to academics.”
“GOAL was really just so different. My previous high school, Lincoln, was so big. There were so many students. It was really hard for the teachers to keep up with the students. They didn’t just have 30 students in one classroom. They had many rotating in and out. And, I guess, when I was rebelling and doing bad they just kind of let me be. They didn’t really talk to me, pull me aside, or anything. They didn’t ask me for help or if I needed any. At Downtown I had Ed and Ms. Waddell the whole day. They knew you, they remembered you. They noticed if something was off. They talked to you. It was so hard not to go to their classes, it was really fun. They taught us about how to sail, and how to row, how to work the ropes course. Working with bigger groups, getting out of my shell, and thinking out loud. They helped me a lot.”
– Marisol Jimenez
I ended up in the GOAL program through my sister. She knew Ed because she had gone through Urban Pioneers. She suggested that I take his class. Ed was also telling me, “take my class you’re going to love it”. So I took GetOutAndLearn and that was like the best ever. I had fallen off of school and didn’t really like it, but once I started going to GOAL I realized, school is not that bad. Yeah, we go out, and we learn. But we are also learning what we have to: math, reading, and all the things school requires for you to graduate.”
– Kelly Rodas
“In high school I messed up a lot. I got kicked out of George Washington. When I went to Downtown there were a lot of programs but the one that intrigued me was GOAL. I have a hard time telling you why I chose it. Now that I look back, Ed and Waddell welcoming you into the program was very heartfelt. I think that is the reason why I chose GOAL.”
-Josue De Leon
“What really made me want to go to GetOutAndLearn in the beginning was when the teachers all stood up with the projects and the slide-shows. Once the GOAL slide show came out and they showed backpacking, boat building, and how we weren’t going to be in a classroom all day, it just made sense to me. I thought, I get to be down by the pier, I get to be down by Fort Miley, I get to go camping, and I just wanted to try something new. I was bored of being stuck in a classroom all day.”
“My brother was already in GOAL during my sophomore year. When he just entered the program; Jordan was coming home everyday and telling me about it. I thought that sounds really cool. I wanna be doing that too. So at the end of junior year I put in to transfer. I walked right up to Ed at my brother’s graduation and told him I wanted to be in his program. He laughed and said ok, as long as I showed up on time.”
2. What did Ed do that made him so different as a teacher?
What made GOAL so different as a program?
“Ed was just very straightforward, you know. Couldn’t really bullshit him. You couldn’t give him excuses. He wouldn’t take them. It’s either you do this or you don’t. But also, in a sense, he understood you if you had things going on at home. He was a people person. He wasn’t just a teacher standing there in front of a board speaking to the whole class, he actually had conversations with us. When we talked about a poem in a book or examples in math, he’d actually use real world examples to share his experiences.”
“Being urban kids, we aren’t really taught to explore anything besides what’s in our little city. I remember that he said ‘you don’t really know someone unless you take them out of their element’. And that’s what he did. That was definitely one of his motives, it had to have been. I really liked his way of teaching. When students first saw that we were going rappelling, when they first see that we have to go descend down this steep, steep cliff, their first thought is ‘I don’t know what I’m going to learn out of this’. But at the end of the day he has these de-brief questions: What made you really pull through with it? Was having one of your classmates cheering you on important? If that person can do it why can’t you do it? Little things like that. He just made us realize that you really don’t know who you are until you’re put into a situation like that. You don’t know who other people are until you’re in the same situation as well.
He definitely was a father figure, and you know, for me personally, I didn’t have that father figure when I was growing up. I felt like that was why I always wanted to just veer off and do my own thing. I took myself out of public school. I made the decision about going to a continuation school and to start working, to do things my own. I didn’t have anyone else there to guide me. I didn’t have a father figure at all. When I started GOAL, Ed was all that and more. He guided us like he was our father but he was there for us like we were one of his friends. That’s just something you don’t get from teachers nowadays.
When he was teaching me he still had his way of trying to discipline us, but his tactic of getting us to actually integrate what he was trying to get us to learn…integrate it into our brains, he’d probably say something in a joking way to where we’re going to remember it. At the end of the day we were learning something, and it didn’t feel like it. He was a hands on kind of teacher and that’s what stood out to me the most.”
“It was the high support and expectation that Ed gave to the students. That was the main difference. He had a way of talking to you, not as a teacher. ‘You have to listen to me. I have to watch out for you. I know what the real world is like. I know where you’re coming from and what it’s like, but now you have a chance to actually make it better, or you can keep going on the path you are going right now.’ I wouldn’t say philosophical, but he was more like that kind of big brother. And that was so different about his approach as a teacher. He wanted to teach you things but in such a way you didn’t know he was teaching you.”
“Yeah, I mean. I’m Polynesian. You can go anywhere in the world and see other Polynesians and we can get along perfectly, you know? So it was other Polynesians that were getting me to join the class and I guess Ed was part of the group that persuaded me, so. I guess he made us feel comfortable, coming from the island lifestyle and the love of nature and the oceans. We’ve always respected nature and ocean, and we saw that he had the same mentality and I guess that’s what drew us to GOAL, me and most of the Polynesians.
Yeah, we all would butt head with Ed man. It’s Ed muggy. That’s his nickname Edmuggy. So you know, his phone number even way before us, his nickname was Ed muggy but his phone number was it so I thought we were the only ones that knew about it but I guess there were many more students that nicknamed him that. So I thought that was neat. And, we loved, like most island people, we love the people and the challenge aspects, that is kind of always our culture, and in the end of the day we always respect the other challenger. So, we, I guess we got along because he chewed up most of everyone. I’m probably twice his size and I’m 6 ft tall. I’m 6 foot 4 but he stood taller than us. Which is why we looked up to us. And some of us were bad kids but that didn’t phase him.
I mean, we had security guards but Ed was most of the time there way before them. They should have hired him as a security guard too. He stood in and he stood his ground, nobody wanted to challenge him, because he had presence. And I guess he always had that grin on his face which calmed everyone down.
I grew up, I was born and raised in Fiji and I was raised on a ship so and my dad was a commander in the Navy and everything, everything was an application. He taught us that everything was an application, you just have to know how to use it and when to use it. That’s the way I saw it. I didn’t actually graduate. I moved to England to play rugby so I didn’t finish his class but I guess it depends, I did a GED and graduated before my class. Which I think was help of Ed’s program. So I had left the school and I went to England and I came back and I decided to graduate before them. I thought I wasn’t a good kid but Ed’s class showed me I wasn’t a bad kid.”
– Tony Koroilazesau
What made Ed stand out was that he accepted you. You don’t have a very good background, but Ed would work with you to open up more. He would listen to you. He really had a connection with the students. He understood if you were going through a bad time, he would ask you how he could help you and just give you a talk. He made me realize life is not that bad. Yes, there is some down side… but you can lift yourself up. That was the best thing about Ed, he gave you hope. He gave you shape on bad situations.”
“GOAL helped me open up to people that usually I wouldn’t open up to. And it opened my eyes to a lot of different things, especially the fact that how living with other people helped me see how I am personally. Cause at home I’d be like very rebellious, very angry towards I don’t even know what, I was just angry. But with GOAL, going out into nature, it’s like literally you and the people against nature – and realizing that I have to rely on other people because my mom and dad, it helped me understand my parents even better because it helped me see what they go through on a day to day basis. It is a little bit different for them because you know they are in love, but it kinda the same thing with me and my friends. I have a best friend…his name is Roger Lopez…him and me we went through a pretty weird phase like from me like not talking to nobody to being like really open minded, very helpful now but before the backpacking trip when we first started I didn’t help anybody I just thought of me, myself and I…after day four or day five after Ed gave me a good yell, I opened up more. I started helping people. I started nagging less about stuff that needs to be done and finding solutions to those things so it helped me open my eyes towards society a little bit more.”
Well he never gave up to kids, towards people, towards whatever project he was doing, like building a boat, teaching us how to be leaders, how helping us doing somebody’s life in the room…and he’s always there behind us telling you it’s ok, I’m right here, nothings gonna happen, that comfort Ed gave, that no other teachers gave was what got me.”
– Josue De Leon