Meet Chris Oster!

Meet Chris Oster!
Danny Stock

As part of our ongoing series Meet Our GDS Faculty and Staff, we are excited to present: Meet Chris Oster!

Read the Q&A below to learn more about Chris.

Primary Roles: Transportation Marketing Associate 

Pronouns: he/him

Years at GDS: 4.75 years down and rolling right along—sustainably

Before we learn more about you, we have two questions that might help the GDS community differentiate between the two transportation Chris’s!

What are your top “Nope, that’s the other Chris!” items? 
Questions about trips involving school buses and contractors. Not me!

What are your top “That’s me!” items from your job that you want people to know? 
Campus commuting! Metro cards! SchoolPass! That’s me!

What do you love about GDS?
The acceptance of everyone’s quirks without judgment.

Sustainable Transportation Coordinator of the Year Chris Oster with Barbara Eghan, Director of the Civic Lab at GDS.

Why do you do your job?
There is no point of teaching kids if there is not a habitable world for them in the future. Transportation is the largest contributor of greenhouse gasses in the U.S. Helping to usher in a shift away from "driving culture" is necessary to reel in emissions.

A favorite part of your job?
Morning carpool with the PK-1st graders is the highlight of my day. Always puts me in a good mood welcoming the youngest Hoppers.

Your work style in three words?
Beauty in chaos

Other GDS activities or roles that community members may not know about?
Chris also serves as a coach of the Varsity Wrestling and Golf Teams, a faculty advisor of the Golf Club and Environmental Task Force (student club), and a (self-appointed) “professional Bill Wallace Heckler.”

A top hope/wish for your students and/or colleagues?
That they learn how to get around the area without a car. The DC metro area is one of the most robust transit networks in the U.S. and knowing how to navigate the system gives a great degree of autonomy. The bike network is slowly improving, though the trails leading into the city are already great.

Personal passions/hobbies/pastimes?
Hiking and nature walks, 90s RPGs, and strategy games.

A few favorites…?
Book: Flavor by Yotam Ottolenghi has some incredible vegetable-forward recipes that focus on the techniques to bring out different flavors and textures of the ingredients. 

Chris and his wife, Merritt, in the Austrian Alps near Innsbruck.

Movie: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. If you are into dark comedies about mutually assured nuclear destruction, this is the movie for you.

Tell us about your family. 
My wife, Merritt, and I have two dogs, Attie and Scout, named after the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird. Occasionally, we all wear tracksuits together.

One thing about yourself your students/colleagues/others probably don't know?
The smell of ketchup makes me nauseous.

One thing on your life "bucket list" you've already accomplished?
Swimming in Crater Lake

One thing on your life “bucket list” you have yet to accomplish?
Traveling to New Zealand to hike from the Shire to Mordor.


Chris’s dogs, Attie and Scout

With a tip from Chris, we reached out to hear what a couple of colleagues had to say…
The High School science department, where Chris previously taught physics and environmental science, is notorious for the affectionate ribbing and ridiculing between teachers. True to form, HS science teacher Polly Martin said:

Chris Oster, the all-seeing eye of GDS sustainable commuting, atop the Dark Tower, Barad-dûr, on the lava-seared Plateau of Gorgoroth beneath the slopes of Mount Doom in the land of Mordor during the late Third Age of Middle Earth.

“What do you say about a guy who wears his hair upside down? The want-to-be Santa Claus is an intriguing individual. This fellow vegetarian—most of the time—has pushed to have a real greenhouse, even though water has to be hauled inside. He started off as a long-term sub for Kevin Cornell and worked his way into becoming a somewhat-beloved member of the science department as a physics teacher. He was able to follow his passion and teach an energy/environmental class. He added to the hot sauce collection in the office. He did the crazy New Orleans wedding and brought us back Zapp's chips. When the position of sustainable transportation coordinator (whatever the title is opened up), he jumped. He has been incredibly innovative in his approach to convincing us to change how we come to school.”

HS science teacher Cori Coats added:

"What’s in a name? Well, for Chris, his email generates more meaning than the average email address.  As the tag “coster” (pronounced kOH-ster) conjures the concept of a roller coaster, Chris, too, conjures up feelings of adventure and surprise. Perhaps it is a metaphor, too, for the roller coaster ride that we have put him on at GDS—calling on his adaptability and range of expertise to teach classes in physics, chemistry, calculus, energy and sustainability, and an independent study or two… Oh—and did I mention he coaches wrestling and golf and helps with the environmental club? Chris held all of these positions before he stepped into his responsibilities with transportation and commuting. Indeed, Chris is known by his colleagues to take on big projects with ease and good humor. Since stepping up to the task of developing solutions and thinking creatively about sustainable commuting, he has stayed on track through all of the twists and turns…dealing with issues of great gravity while still having fun."

Meet Chris Oster!
  • Meet the Teachers