Science Department Chair, AT Biology Teacher
Know Your Pelicans
What work did you do before coming to Packer?
I feel I’ve had two career paths–one as an educator and another as a biologist. I first followed my passion of working with trees and plants at a national tree and lawn care center in my hometown of Kent, Ohio. There I learned about pathogens and insects that impact plant growth and how to treat them. After that, I spent a few years as an aquatic ecologist, which expanded on some of my field-based classes at Hiram. It meant snorkeling around Midwest lakes in an effort to manage the invasion of an aquatic weed using biological control. It also meant doing a lot of field work to index the fish and invertebrate life that comprised various watersheds in the Midwest and Eastern parts of the US.
After pursuing my MS in Biology and while working on my MAT, I worked as a teacher in Chicago for three years. When that chapter closed, I moved to NYC and worked as the US Biology teacher at Friends Seminary before coming to Packer in 2017.
During my teaching career, I cultivated my interest in working with teachers as they develop a more student-centered approach to teaching science. There is no one size fits all, but I’m driven by my curiosity to help teachers find ways for students to experience and interpret science for themselves.
What do you love most about the work that you do?
What I love most is finding ways for students to come to their own understanding of what they’re learning. In the AT Biology class, students are able to find support for conclusions without confirmation from me. Students quickly learn to rely on one another and their own brains to determine if answers make sense or if they need to find out more.
It’s hard to pick just one favorite part, but I’d say it’s quite fun to see students unpack how cells communicate. They do so through a wide variety of student-designed activities (claymation of how cells receive and transmit messages, determining impact of temperature or pH on yeast reproduction, and a poster presentation on a disorder which stems from cell signaling malfunction).
If you had an inspirational fridge magnet, what would it say, and why?
"Worry less and do more, with kindness." I think it's important to consider our options before making a decision, but I tend to ruminate [...] about things that never come to pass. I also like the reminder to be kind because we ned to be more kind to others and to ourselves.
Why did you choose Packer?
I chose Packer because the Science Department is dedicated to modeling. Modeling is an approach to teaching in which students work collaboratively to build models of scientific understanding and draw conclusions from their observations and experiences.
What are the strengths of the Science Department?
The Science Department is a group who is passionate about students, science, and lifelong learning. We are a group of people excited about the natural world and what t has to teach us. We want our students to experience it for themselves, and we love finding ways to help them do it.