KCSOS’s Ogden Kiesel named Teacher of the Year by statewide education group; will be honored annual conference in May
Like many Kern County students, Ogden Kiesel visited Camp KEEP as a 6th grader. Years later, after graduating with a degree in environmental education from Prescott College, he returned to camp. This time, he was the one leading the hikes, science lessons and songs around the campfire.
“I liked the idea of coming full circle to teach students from Bakersfield,” said Kiesel who served as a KEEP Cambria naturalist for three years before leaving to continue his education.
Kiesel returned to KCSOS again after completing his masters of education with a focus in alternative education, and for the past ten years, has been a high school science teacher at CLC Tech Community School.
For his years of passion and dedication serving at-risk students, Kiesel has been named teacher of the year by the Juvenile Court, Community and Alternative School Administrators of California (JCCASAC). He will be officially recognized in May at the organization’s annual conference.
“Of course it is a great personal honor to be teacher of the year,” said Kiesel. “Yet I’m most excited that this recognition will bring attention to KCSOS’ Alternative Education program as a whole. We are a unique and outstanding school district with many exceptional educators and dedicated professionals who genuinely care about the students we serve.”
Many of Kiesel’s students have been expelled from traditional high schools. Some are in gangs. Others are on probation. Some are teenage parents.
“It is true my students can be challenging,” he said. “It is also true that if we are willing to remain compassionate we can continue to seek ways to inspire them to become life-long learners.”
To this end, Kiesel’s teaching philology is based on two simple principles: respect and understanding. He said the better we know each other as individuals, the higher level of respect we can hold for one other. With that respect comes trust, and that trust allows us to take risks.
“Then the real learning happens,” he emphasized.
Kiesel was Kern County Teacher of the Year alternate in 2013 and says the best part of his job are the days when the lesson is so intriguing that the students lose themselves in the learning.
In his free time, Kiesel is training for his 4th open water swim from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf and also for a race that crosses the length of water under the Golden Gate Bridge.
Kiesel and his wife Daina have an 8-month-old baby girl named Ella.
“It is amazing to witness her developing personality; she is our greatest love,” he said.