The developers and instructors of the Great Smokies Experience have between them decades of experience teaching both secondary and post-secondary students about the environment. We hail from different educational backgrounds, and we believe that this diversity of expertise is a major strength of this program. The fact that this class is also managed by a unique partnership of three distinct institutions--Maryville College, the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, and Mountain Challenge--provides our students with a one-of-a-kind experience to get the most out of this program.
John DiDiego, M.S. - Education Director at Tremont
John has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Notre Dame and an M.S. in Natural Resources from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. In over 15 years' experience in environmental education, he has worked in places as far-flung as New England, Georgia, Yosemite NP, and far eastern Russia; but there is no place he’d rather be than the southern Appalachians.
Dr. Mark O'Gorman, Ph.D. - Coordinator of the Environmental Studies Program at Maryville College
Mark is an Associate Professor of political science at Maryville College. He is deeply committed to environmental education and teaches a variety of classes on national, state and local environmental policy. He holds a B.A. from Lawrence University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Syracuse University.
Bruce Guillaume, MSW - Founder and Director of Mountain Challenge
Bruce is an alumnus of Maryville College, holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Tennessee and has an additional postgraduate degree from the Kentucky University School of Medicine. He founded Mountain Challenge back in 1987 for the purpose of getting people of all ages outdoors to improve their physical and mental wellness and to have fun.
Dr. Ariane Schratter, Ph.D. - Associate Professor of Psychology at Maryville College
Ariane has bachelor's degree from California State University in Sonoma, a master's from California State University in Sacramento and a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her focus is childhood education and lifespan / developmental psychology. She is particularly passionate about the value of outdoor education for children and adolescents.
Dr. Doug Sofer, Ph.D. - Associate Professor of History at Maryville College
Doug went to Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, in the foothills of the Catskills Mountains. He had such a profound, transformative experience at this liberal arts college that he dedicated himself to being a historian at a similar school some day. After earning an M.A. and Ph.D. in history from the University of Texas at Austin, he reached that vocational goal in 2006 when he started working at Maryville College. Doug teaches a variety of different experiential courses, in addition to more standard history classes. He has done graduate work in environmental history, and believes that all history can ultimately be connected to humans' relationships with the natural world and its resources.