Noyce Scholar Profile
Undergraduate major or graduate field of study: B.S., Biology
Subject area(s) and grade level teaching focus: Biology, grades 9-12; Science, Mathematics, grades 6-8
Category of scholarship/fellowship:
Fifth year or post-baccalaureate Noyce scholar
Name of Noyce institution:
Current academic or teaching status:
MAT 5th Year
School and school district:
I grew up in the tawny reds and grey greens of the high desert of eastern Oregon. I spent my time helping out at my great-grandparents ranch and enjoying the beauty of the world. My father not only helped out on the ranch, but was also the primary science teacher in our small town of John Day. Having a science teacher for a father, one gets a very interesting view of the world. I loved everything he showed me and ended up studying science when I went to college at Eastern Oregon University (EOU). At EOU I worked as a lab assistant, tutor, teacher’s aide and supplemental instructor for Biology and Chemistry, while working toward graduation. I graduated from EOU with Honors, holding a Bachelors of Science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry.
After college, I spent some time in Utah, where I worked as a lab-tech and surgical assistant in a fetal sheep research lab. It was an amazing experience and one I am not likely to forget.
As a mom, I spent years volunteering in the schools, working in every grade from K-6th. I started an afterschool reading and craft program at the Vernonia Public Library, which I then handed over to other volunteers and I volunteered with the Taekwondo program teaching students a martial art.
When I was ready to go back to work, I realized how much I wanted to do more than work in a lab and I knew that working with children was my passion. So, I researched education programs and here I am!
Why do you want to teach:
I enjoy working with children, I connect to children, and I deeply believe in the power of education. So it feels natural to consider being an educator. Having been raised in a family of teachers, I had many opportunities to see the ramifications of teachers who care. I have seen the impact which compassionate teachers have on their students. I have seen how this deep concern for the student as a whole person has affected the everyday lives of students and what they go on to believe about themselves. Further, I love science, especially Biology. I have always enjoyed the natural world and often find myself discussing different aspects of science with students and children. The idea of sharing my pleasure in the world of science with others is enthralling. As a full time mother, I had many opportunities to volunteer in the schools. I worked for years with various children, one-on-one and in small groups. I loved it, and I was good at it. Over the years, I found myself seeking and even creating opportunities to work with children. When I decided to retire from being a mom and go back to work, I realized that I my passion lay in teaching. So I set out to find a way to realize this dream. This has been my path toward the teacher education program in which I am currently enrolled.
Describe a memorable teaching experience:
While working as a teacher’s aide, I had the opportunity to assist a young man with his algebra. He stuttered badly, and every day he came to class, he would put himself down. “I’m so s-s-s-s-stupid,” he would say. I was lucky that we had enough time in class for one-on-one instruction, and even though he was discouraged, he was willing to try. One day, while working on fractions, I had explained it to him several times when that infamous light bulb went off. (His eyes lit up and his face broke into a grin.) “I’ve g-g-g-got it!” he exclaimed and explained it back to me very well. He focused very well that day and did a great job ignoring distractions in class, he was so excited.
Over the course of the year, I got to spend quite a bit of time helping him out. Daily, I got to point out to him how, once he took the time to see the problem, that he invariably understood the idea. He also did very well when he took the time to finish his work. Many days I pointed out to him, that he got 100% of the problems he had finished correct. “If only he had finished the page,” I would say, “He could have gotten an A on that work.”
Over time, he began to take his work home, he always needed to show me what he had learned and he became much better at focusing in class. Sometime in March he said to me on his way out the door, “You know, Mss-ss. B-Burghard, I’m pretty good at math.” My heart just melted. I was so proud of him and so grateful for the chance to be part of his life and growth. This is part of what drove my decision to teach.
What does the Noyce program mean to you:
Due to the cost, I did not expect to choose Pacific University. I was ecstatic when I discovered that I had been awarded one of the Pacific Robert Noyce Scholarships. Without this gift, I would have had to delay this exciting experience. I would also have had to relocate my family to go to school, and I would not have been able to choose this exceptional school as my means of becoming a teacher. Over the summer in this program, I have stretched my knowledge and now I find myself in the middle of an intense learning experience which will surely help me become the best educator I can become. I am excited, delighted, and ecstatic. But mostly, I am grateful, and I am ready.