Noyce Scholar Profile
Undergraduate major or graduate field of study: Geology
Subject area(s) and grade level teaching focus: Physical and Earth Sciences, grades 7-12
Category of scholarship/fellowship:
Noyce Teaching Fellow
Name of Noyce institution:
University of Utah/Math for America
Current academic or teaching status:
School and school district:
Salt Lake Center for Science Education
My undergraduate degree is from Lyndon State College in Meteorology, with a Minor in Mathematics. I fell into education after working for years as a broadcast meteorologist (where I still moonlight on a freelance basis). I love the outdoors and all things science and wanted to expand my education. I will have completed my Professional Masters of Science and Technology in Environmental Sciences in Fall of 2011 and have just begun work on my MS in Geology–both from the University of Utah. I have been a WEST (Water Environment Science and Teaching) fellow for the past two years, and this will be my first year as a Math for America Fellow (in Science). I am an avid skier, hiker, yoga practitioner, mountain biker, and gardener. Living in Utah has been my dream, and I am so glad I will be able to help students learn about the world around them.
Why do you want to teach:
After spending years in TV, I never really felt like I was actually doing anything with my skills. Sure, forecasting is challenging, but I felt like I wasn’t contributing to the well-being of society, especially on days where I would be called into meetings about the volume of my hair…. My first teaching job did not last long because I was not certified. I did learn I wanted to teach, but had to figure out a way to get back into school and become a teacher. While enrolled in my first master’s program, I have been learning a great deal about climate change and the general scientific illiteracy that sadly is part of life. I am hoping I can help students to question the world around them, not take everything on an “as is” basis and think critically about science and science issues.
Describe a memorable teaching experience:
The university let me take a box of rocks and minerals into a classroom. One of the rocks inside the box was coal. The students had heard of coal before, but never touched it or seen it in person. They knew where it came from (coal mining) and had a basic understanding of how important coal has been in history. After discussing coal, a student asked, “Why don’t we just get our energy from somewhere less dangerous, like the sun or the wind?” You know, maybe you will grow up to be a great scientist and figure more of this out! It’s days like this where students come up with great questions that I feel like I am really helping people.
What does the Noyce program mean to you:
I have just begun my MFA fellowship and to me it is an amazing opportunity. We need more good science and math teachers to get our students to think about the world and also consider careers in both science and math. Our students deserve a great education from great teachers, and teacher retention, particularly in Utah, is low in math and science. I hope I can use this opportunity to enhance my own content knowledge and then share with some willing participants! I am so thankful that changing careers has become a doable option for me and that I will be doing some fulfilling work.