From the courthouse to the classroom: Mr. Ostlund’s job before teaching


Photo by Jihan Abdi

No matter which math teacher students have, they probably all know that Ms. Gagnon has a substitute for the rest of the year, Mr. Ostlund. What they likely didn’t know is that he used to be a lawyer.

Mr. Erik Ostlund went to Carleton College for 4 years until he graduated, and then went to William Mitchell College of Law for 3 years in order to become a lawyer. After college, he worked for a judge doing paperwork and filing for about a year. Following that year he did some corporate work for about 10 years, in which he would counsel clients and handle business transactions. Near the end of those 10 years he felt restless, and he wanted to try something new. He decided to work at a small law firm, handling divorce and marriage documents, as well as doing a bit of work in the criminal law area.

However, Mr. Ostlund felt that his job wasn’t the right fit for him. “As a lawyer I felt like I wasn’t making much of a difference, my job wasn’t very satisfying. When you’re a lawyer, what you do most of the day is argue with other people and it makes you want to argue with everybody all the time, which I didn’t want to do,” he said.

That’s when Mr. Ostlund decided to be a teacher. His Father, Grandfather and Great Grandfather were all teachers so he decided to become a fourth generation teacher. “I feel that as a teacher, I am making more of a difference than I ever did as a lawyer,” he said.

I feel that as a teacher, I am making more of a difference than I ever did as a lawyer.”

— Mr. Ostlund

Mr Ostlund’s students feel that he is doing a great job as a teacher. Nathan Lenzen, who is in his 1st period Algebra, said, “Mr Ostlund is pretty great, really funny, and he seems like he knows what he is doing while teaching.” Sheheni Mahabamunuge in his 4th period Algebra stated, “He has told me during conferences that he was a lawyer for a while, but then quit because his true passion is teaching, and I believe that he is a better teacher than a lawyer.” Lastly, Elly Dunnell in his 6th period pre-algebra said, “He’s a good teacher and can put students in their place.”

So now everyone knows more about Mr Ostlund: Mrs Gagnon’s substitute teacher who used to be a lawyer but gave it up to do another job that he felt like was making more of a difference. Most of his students think he is a great teacher who is very passionate about his job and isn’t afraid to work hard, while also having fun with his students.