Xavier Magazine

Into the Wild

Jene Galvin is a true wilderness man. This summer he was a volunteer park ranger at Lake Clark National Park in Alaska, stationed at Chinitna Bay, a remote area only accessible by bush plane, patrolling a grizzly bear viewing area and watching out for poachers.

This is his second year volunteering for the park service. As an avid backpacker, Galvin’s visited Alaska the last 10 years and has had his share of up-close-and-personal bear encounters. He proved to be experienced for the task.

However, Galvin’s adventures started in an urban setting. After obtaining his master’s degree in education and guidance counseling at Xavier, he began teaching for Cincinnati Public Schools in the inner-city neighborhoods. Realizing traditional methods of teaching weren’t working with the kids, he decided to start his own charter school in 1975, without support from the school board. The New Morning High School consisted of a bunch of “hippie kids and teachers,” as Galvin describes them, who took learning outside the classroom and into the real world.

With Galvin’s guidance, one class took its assignment all the way to the courtroom, building a discriminatory case against Cincinnati shop owners who posted signs forbidding or limiting the number of students in their stores. Gaining the support of former City Council member Jerry Springer, the students won. However, a year later the ordinance was overturned.

From there, Galvin started another alternative school for high school students interested in communication professions. Students earned full credits while getting a leg up in the world of journalism with access to their own TV studio and sound room.

In the late 1990s, Galvin began a radio career, hosting an evening talk show on WDBZ in Cincinnati. “It was like Rush Limbaugh, “ he says. “But for the left.” That led to another radio gig, this time as co-host of “Springer on the Radio,” which was syndicated nationally until 2006. Now, he’s back at Xavier as an adjunct professor and coordinator for the Institute for Politics and Public Life’s “American Dream” video blog project, in which students use Flip video cameras to document the public’s view of “the dream.”

Galvin has his own dream, though. “Throughout my life my passion has always been the outdoors,” says the adventurous granddad. He’s hoping the park service starts sending him out for longer stints.

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