Noyce Scholar Profile
Undergraduate major or graduate field of study: Biology, Pedagogy
Subject area(s) and grade level teaching focus: Biology, grades 6-12
Category of scholarship/fellowship:
Noyce Teaching Fellow
Name of Noyce institution:
Current academic or teaching status:
certificate obtained; not yet teaching (as of 6/11)
School and school district:
Phoenixville Area High School
Why Are We Here? I feel like I have been trying to answer that question my entire life, first unconsciously, then consciously, now intentionally unconsciously. Ernest Becker, a scientific philosopher wrote, “People cannot endure their own littleness unless they can translate it into meaningfulness on the largest possible level.” I have to admit, I feel like he was on to something. My typical (if that exists), selfish, yet-seemingly happy childhood came to an abrupt stop after an emergency surgery to repair my ruptured stomach (due to stress) when I was only 18 years old. The surgery not only saved my life, it eventually gave me new life. Though an arduous five year psychological recovery (the physical recovery was less than one year), I struggled to find a better way to live. I found adventure in outdoor recreation guiding and ultimately found harmony in the nature that surrounded my trips. True magic happened when I was able to build a relationship with my trip members and share my passion for nature and my appreciation for them as people. I saw this “magic” happen again and again as explored work in the fields of Ecology and Child Psychology. Ultimately, I found myself being drawn towards teaching, which offered an opportunity to combine the wondrous natural world with the wondrous minds of children in the same field.
Why do you want to teach:
I believe that I (and every one of us) have the power to change the world. I believe that each of us can affect lasting, positive impact on this world by sharing our passions with others. I see teaching as a grandiose opportunity to share my ever-growing passion for life (in the biological and existential meaning) in hopes of igniting passion in others. That’s why I want to teach.
Describe a memorable teaching experience:
Several students stayed after class one day and probed for more information about how diseases have been linked to genetics. “Alcoholism is a disease, but I don’t think that’s linked to genetics.” I did my best to guide the student towards objective research that implicated both genetic and environmental components in alcoholism. Three students stayed for the entire period (51 minutes) and debated, researched on a computer, and discussed. One of those students came back to me the next week and said, “My grandfather was an alcoholic. I never understood what that meant until now.” My heart felt heavy, and I held back tears. That student had learned something she’ll never forget; that experience further ingrained in me the importance of making content relevant.
What does the Noyce program mean to you:
The Noyce Program is the reason I am able to be a teacher, and furthermore, a successful teacher (that I foresee myself being!). I would have hesitated to go down the path to obtain the necessary education and experience to teach if Noyce had not provided such a wonderful opportunity at the ideal time. I have no idea where I would have found the money. Money aside, Noyce goes above and beyond by holding monthly seminars that build community amongst scholars, deepen the experience by bringing in speakers and past scholars, and provide additional tools to use in the classroom. Noyce, to me, has meant potential, hope, personal growth, and excitement.