Taking teaching beyond LMC


Professor Olgin posses for a photo between planning his daily lessons.

Weston Hopkins, staff writer

“Through my drive to support opportunity and equality, my goal is to inspire and empower the humans that enter my classroom.” said George Olgin, who got hired as a full-time English instructor at Los Medanos College over the summer 2019.

“When the Vice President of Instruction called to let me know I had gotten the job, I didn’t believe it,” said Olgin. “I thought I had a chance, sure. But, I didn’t think I would get the job.”

Even though his father had been a teacher in his hometown of San Luis Obispo, he wasn’t around much in the formative years of  life. At the age of 5 years old, Olgin’s parents split up and his mother took him and his siblings to live in San Francisco with their grandparents. Olgin never imagined he would have become a professor, let alone acquire an education past high school. 

He remembers the sense of community in his childhood neighborhood created and the compassion he felt from his neighbors stayed with him his entire life.

He appreciated those who supported his mother, “When my dad left, whether it was government assistance, my neighbors or my grandparents, I always saw people helping my mom.” 

This feeling of community didn’t stop him from getting into trouble, however, when he entered the seventh grade he began to act out. 

“We would drink, sometimes vandalize, or steal. Times were carefree back then. My friends and I would get on the bus and just get into stuff. You didn’t have to have any money, just a bus pass,” said Olgin.

Everything changed for Olgin when he was 23-years-old, as his daughter was born. Olgin was working construction, a field that was fluctuating a lot in the ‘90s and he knew it was time for a change.

“I remember looking into her eyes and holding her for the first time thinking ‘oh my god, I got to be responsible for this human being,’” said Olgin.

After a suggestion from his sister, Olgin began attending classes at Solano College. He intended to obtain a bachelor’s degree in history so he could teach high school history and coach football. 

“I tested into a developmental English class, which is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.” he said.

Part of the requirements for the class were to appear in the writing and reading center, where it all started for Olgin. He became emotional while recalling the compassion and support he received from the writing center at Solano College, struggling to get the words out. 

“I met people in those writing centers that cared about me, it had nothing to do with English it was about human to human helping one another,” said Olgin. “They motivated me and supported me. They pushed me to be the best I can be.” 

After finishing his bachelor’s degree in history from Sacramento State and then earning his master’s degree in English from Northern Arizona University, Olgin was ready to be the one that helps. 

“I know what it’s like to be a parent going to college, to have to struggle, to have to decide between getting gas or buying groceries. I understand what our students go through,” Olgin said. “That’s why a lot of moves and things I do in the classroom are reflections of my journey. I want students to be comfortable so that I can push them academically.”

That has been easier said than done for Olgin since his style of teaching is more personable than most. He is a tall man who dresses casually in plaid T-shirts and cargo shorts, so it can be hard to get students to take him seriously sometimes—an issue he didn’t shy away from.

“I have a complex that when students hear me or see me talk, they think I’m not legit. Maybe because of my style, the way I dress, the way I look, my vernacular, they think that I don’t fit the stereotype of an English professor,” said Olgin.

He’s able to break that mold through sheer willpower. As both a teacher and a parent, Olgin is constantly mindful of what’s best for his kids and students. 

“It’s all about trial and error,” he said, adding, “I challenge my students but I’m coming from a loving and caring place when I do that.”

Having been a teacher’s assistant and a tutor at Solano College, he learned how to connect with his students. Even during the hiring process, Olgin knew that the LMC culture would be a great fit.

“I had been denied for full time jobs in the past. I would walk into interviews with a suit and be somebody different. At LMC I felt I could walk into the interview and 100 percent be myself,” said Olgin.

Olgin loves to help students focus on the big picture and making sure they get the support they need to reach their goals. Whether that means helping students with self-motivation or letting them know about resources on campus, Olgin lend a hand because, his success means that you’re succeeding. 

Ethan Gatlin, a current student of Olgin’s underscores his commitment to supporting everyone.

“He cares about each and every student and is extremely understanding of the disparity of situations each student is in,” said Gatlin. “He’s one of the best English teachers I’ve ever had the pleasure of learning from.”