Eric grew up in a rural community with his parents and twin sister. He is the son of Ken Gjerde, a veteran of both the Army and Navy, and a retired United States Postal Service worker, and Ruth a retired nurse. Much of his early days was spent working in his uncle and aunt’s family owned grocery store, learning the ins and outs of the business before he could see over the register. Eric attended Augustana College in Rock Island, IL, where he ran Cross Country and Track and double majored in Sociology and Religion. Eric and his sister were the first in his extended family to earn four year degrees.
Eric then began working on his first of two Masters degrees from the University of Iowa, ultimately earning Masters degrees in Secondary Education and Educational Administration. While a graduate student, Eric served on the Board of Directors for the Habitat for Humanity of the Quad Cities. After completing his first Master’s Degree, he began his education career in LeRoy, Minnesota. In addition to his teaching duties, Eric volunteered as an EMT for LeRoy Area Ambulance.
Eric returned to the state of Iowa to begin work on his doctorate in Educational Policy and Leadership Studies, which he completed in May of 2016 at the University of Northern Iowa. While working on this degree, Eric worked as a Special Education teacher at Clear Creek Amana High School in Tiffin, IA for five years, before accepting his current position with the Cedar Rapids Community School District. Eric has been teaching Special Education and coaching at Thomas Jefferson High School for the past ten years. For the past five years, Eric has volunteered and served as a Linn County Sheriff’s Office Special Deputy.
Eric is married to his wife, Amy, who works as an early learning paraeducator in the Cedar Rapids Community School District. They have three daughters, Grace (10), Caroline (6) and Ella (6) who attend elementary school in the Linn Mar School District.