Noyce Alumni Profile
Undergraduate major or graduate field of study: B.S. Environmental Science; Master of Arts in Teaching Earth Science Residency
Category of scholarship/fellowship:
Name of Noyce institution:
American Museum of Natural History
Current teaching assignment (school and district):
Mott Haven Village Preparatory High School, Bronx, NY; Earth Science, 9th and 10th grade
What made you decide to become a teacher?
I was a Sunday school teacher at my church. I realized I had a strong passion for teaching and was good at it. Another experience that set me on the path to teaching was not being able to pursue a career in civil engineering so I decided to continue my education in science and math. The Noyce residency program in Earth Science came along offering me an opportunity to become a science teacher. I took advantage of that opportunity, and here I am. I look back and feel fortunate and grateful to be a teacher and serve students in high-need schools. Becoming a teacher is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.
Describe your current teaching assignment.
I currently teach four periods of an Earth Science Regents class and one period of an advisory class on Social Emotional Learning. My school is Mott Haven Village Preparatory (MHVP) High School, a high-need school located in the South Bronx serving roughly 200 students living in the Mott Haven section. 70% of our students are Latino and 30% are African American and West African. MHVP collaborates with University Heights High School located in the same building, is part of District 7, and is a Regents-based school. Most of the MHVP teachers are white and the rest are Black and Hispanic.
How did the Noyce program prepare you for this assignment?
The Noyce program provided opportunities to learn about teaching and teaching practices through workshops about co-teaching models, writing lesson plans and learning about each of the components in a lesson plan, engaging in hands-on activities with other Noyce scholars, and being placed in a classroom as a student teacher. This was the most rewarding experience because I was able to apply all the theories, practices, and strategies learned throughout the workshops and activities that I did while being in the Noyce program. I was also mentored/guided by my cooperating teachers from whom I learned so much. I observed the way my cooperating teacher taught a lesson. I planned, taught, and designed lessons with him as a way to improve my teaching in some areas and reflected on my own teaching practices and student learning.
Did the Noyce program at your university prepare you to use teaching strategies that can help all students learn in all settings?
The Noyce program prepared me to use culturally relevant teaching. I remember the readings that I was assigned that had to do with culturally responsive teaching. I reflected on those readings a lot and wrote a summary of them. We also talked about what culturally responsive teaching looks like in the classroom, in teaching science, and how we can make science culturally relevant for our students. One thing that I always share with my students is that I have a similar background to theirs. I went through a lot while going to school in terms of academics, learning a new language, and struggling to pass classes because I did not speak or write the language fluently. I see myself in them, thus, I think and act how I wanted teachers to support me when I was in high school.
I try to relate the topics to and make connections with my students’ cultural background, using places, events, and tools that they are familiar with. For example, when I am teaching about rocks and minerals, I show pictures of myself in the field whether it is in the Dominican Republic, New Jersey, New York City or New York State. In these pictures I am either collecting fossils, finding minerals in a mine, or next to an outcrop. In addition, I also help students learn by letting them share their own experiences with science whether it is a hurricane, a blizzard, an earthquake, or any other natural event. I also engage my students in a lot of hands-on activities in which they work in heterogeneous groups to do scientific investigations, gather data, and work with simulations and models.
How do you use what you’ve learned (content and pedagogy)?
I used what I learned from the program as a starting point to develop and teach a lesson. As I teach a lesson a couple of times, I modify things by adding, taking away, or leaving the same depending on the needs of my students.
In addition to teaching, are you exploring new areas in content, teaching strategies, leadership, etc. If so, what areas and did the Noyce experience play a role?
In addition to teaching, I am exploring new areas of research about cultural response teaching (CRT) and STEM education. The Noyce experience played a role in my desire to explore these areas because it encouraged and motivated me to continue learning and growing as an educator and a science teacher. I was really impressed and encouraged by the presentation of all the amazing posters displayed at the 2022 Noyce Summit. I learned a lot from working with my colleagues at the American Museum of Natural History in creating our own poster and sharing the research experience behind the poster.
Describe any highlights/special achievements during these beginning years of teaching?
During this first year of teaching, I was able to organize a trip to the American Museum of Natural History with my students. We had so much fun and experienced the connection of what we have been learning in class about planets, stars, rocks, and minerals. Another important highlight that I accomplished in my first year was never being absent or late this school year. I was honored to be recommended by my Noyce PI and then invited to be a member of the Voices from the Field panel at the 2022 Noyce Summit.