“As a scientist, she accepts that trees have a spirtual dimension that cannot be quantified. As an unrepentent tree hugger, she finds support in the scientific case for biodiversity. As an activist, she can’t help but wonder how much time is left for our forests.”
Where I Come From
Greetings! So you want to know a little bit about me, huh?! Well, okay… I am the product of a US Air Force Medic and a German bar maid, and was born and raised in the most MAGICAL place on Earth. Where else, but Orlando, Florida! Being a Florida native, I grew up roaming and frolicking in many of Florida’s orange groves while my dad took care of them. I guess you could say that’s where my love for our natural world began. During my undergraduate studies at the University of Central Florida, I began working as Safari Driver at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and this, combined with my studies, is what paved the path for a long-term career as a conservation educator in several of Central Florida’s AZA-accredited zoological facilities. My focus in these institutions was developing and facilitating K-5 programs which aligned with Florida’s Sunshine State Science Standards.
Stuck at a crossroad, my life’s direction began its focus on formal school education when I was faced with BOTH a frustration of people “not getting” our conservation messages and the need to make a daily living wage that the world of non-profits just could not offer. Now, I am a certified Biology 6-12 and Middle Grades 5-9 teacher. Although it would seem, from outward appearances, that I have left the informal world of education behind, that is not the case at all. I was, am, and forever shall be a Zoo Teacher. My goal is to bring high-quality zoo education into the formal classroom and make learning science fun, engaging, and dynamic once again. Through this method I further aim to build strong, purposeful relationships with my students, my students with the community, and the community with each other. I believe that people will not have proper respect for the natural world until they can fully appreciate how the physical world operates and the role of ALL of the organisms that call Earth home, as well as a healthy respect and understanding for each other. Caring for the environment is about caring for each other. It’s about building relationships. And it begins in the schools.
My Teaching Theory
I believe in order to build relationships, there needs to be a solid foundation of student discipline. Furthermore, discipline builds character and good discipline must maintain a focus on learning, which in turn is supported by persistent helpfulness and kindness by all class members. I believe the desired behavior is best promoted through preventing misbehavior, supporting proper behavior, practicing class rules, responsibly fulfilling roles and requirements, and relying on instructional tactics that assist students in abiding by the rules.
My teaching philosophy very much aligns with Alfred Jones’ style of “keep ’em busy and out of trouble.” I believe that if students are kept engaged in productive and meaningful work, they will naturally also be kept out of trouble. While it is true that individuals who keep busy stay out of trouble more due to preoccupation, expectations must be set in order to maintain healthy and responsible students. That is why my approach to discipline combines that of Craig Seganti’s establishment of class rules and Fred Jones’ “actively and purposefully engaged” model. In order to be create a positive discipline of responsibility, though, practice always makes perfect. As suggested by Harry Wong, procedures and routines will be strictly followed until they become second nature to the student and further ensuring the student to be set up for success.
I also believe students can benefit greatly by learning how to speak respectfully with adults, including making eye contact, using a pleasant tone of voice, and making use of courteous expressions such as “please” and “thank you.” I will emphasize to my students why we benefit from getting along with others, why we need to limit some of our personal actions for the good of the group, and why and how classmates and school personnel should be treated with respect and civility.