Grant Bergland comes from a family of teachers and has always loved seeing his students achieve. First and foremost, he believes that his students need to dream big dreams to make them a reality. Over the past 15 years, Grant has worked with students from the ages of 8 to 89 as a classroom teacher, tutor, wrestling coach, curriculum writer, and Adult Education instructor. Grant is graduating from Columbia University next year with a Master’s of Fine Arts degree in Writing. He also has a Master’s degree in English Literature and has dual teaching credentials in the state of California in the subjects of English Rhetoric/Composition and Art History/Design. Grant is a member of the National Education Association (NEA), holds a Cross-cultural Language and Academic Development (CLAD) certification, and has a College Reading and Language Association (CRLA) Master Tutor certificate.
During his undergraduate career, Grant attended Arizona State University, and was a Sun Devil “Spark” award-winning student athlete for their Division I wrestling program. In his first two years, he followed a pre-med curriculum before being hired by Arizona State’s Writing Center where he discovered his love of composition.
“I’d never seen how important writing was until I started looking at my student’s successes and near-misses. Being able to say something in your own voice and present it in a way that any other person can feel on the page is hard work. Also, I’ve decided that this expressiveness is the most important work we do as human beings—to say what we really mean in a way someone else can understand,” Grant says.
Within a month of graduation, Grant was hired by Mt. Diablo Unified School District to teach Economics, Earth Science, and Biology for Clayton Valley High School’s Special Education department. “I needed to learn how to teach several classes simultaneously through a combination of various levels of scaffolding for lessons and differentiating my instruction to fit my students’ needs,” Grant says. He also was a case manager for a dozen high school students’ Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), which involved making plans to meet the needs of students who had learning disabilities and other obstacles to their education. To complete these IEPs, Grant conducted collaborative meetings with curriculum specialists, speech pathologists, teachers, principals, and parents.
Grant then moved to the English department where he taught every level of High School composition (Grades 9-12), standardized test preparation, wrote curriculum approved to meet the A-F requirements for the University of California, and served as chair of the English department. Grant says the work was exciting because Clayton Valley was a “Title I school, meaning more than 50% of the students in attendance qualified for government assisted lunches; however, on the other side of things, I also had students who owned their own horses and drove foreign cars in the same classes. It really made for some interesting discussions and some amazingly diverse points of view that came out in my students’ writing.” Under the banner of having big dreams and working to achieve them, he helped many students write admissions essays for applications to top tier colleges: “I can’t tell you how satisfying it was when I’d see a student run towards me across the school quad with an acceptance letter in his hand saying: ‘I never thought I’d ever get in!’ It’s a great feeling for me when I knew I’d helped someone get a jump start on a future they were really excited about,” Grant says.
In 2010, Grant moved to New York City, aided by a tuition scholarship from Columbia University and 97th percentile ranking on the Verbal section of the GRE. At Columbia, he studied with notable writers and interned in the Fiction department at The New Yorker magazine.
Currently Grant is an adjunct professor at The New School where he teaches “Writing for Jazz Students.” He has a full teaching fellowship at Columbia University where he will teach Fiction writing to undergraduates in the spring.
Grant likes dogs, being a tourist in the city where he lives, and, of course, writing.