This award is humbling and unexpected because California has some of the most amazing educators. It is an honor to be recognized for my contributions. This award has given me an opportunity to reflect on over 24 years of teaching, learning, and serving students in my community. I can often be overly critical of my skills, abilities, and impact. I think this award means that I am doing something right.
What made you decide to become a teacher?
My first experiences, as a marine science instructor at an outdoor education camp, gave me the confidence I needed to share my marine science knowledge and curiosity with others. Every day that I taught people about marine life and oceanography, I learned something new about the ocean and about myself. I decided to become a teacher because the best way to really learn something is to teach someone else and it feels great to help others.
Why are you passionate about science education?
I am passionate about science education because the more I know, the more I realize I don’t know. There is so much innovation in science and there is something waiting to be discovered every day. I love how science can be viewed through a variety of lenses. You can be a biology teacher, but still learn about physics, chemistry, engineering, math, English, art, and history. Science education has some of the best opportunities (in my opinion) for professional growth and I am constantly inspired by scientists and other teacher leaders. I am also passionate about using my influence to address social justice, environmental issues, and equity in the classroom.
What are some of the most rewarding and challenging aspects of teaching?
The most rewarding aspect of teaching is connecting with students and building relationships. When students involuntarily give me feedback that they learned something in my class or express interest in a topic, that’s a big win! The most challenging aspect of teaching is being patient with myself. Not every lesson is going to be perfect, I will make mistakes, and that’s ok.
Describe your teaching philosophy.
My teaching philosophy is to create a safe and brave space for every student that enters my classroom. Meet students where they are and value their experiences, culture, and identity. Make science fun!