Teaching keeps me thinking, learning and growing and that is why I love it! I have been teaching for over 40 years with 21 of those years in a formal classroom and 19 years in extra-curricular teaching areas. I have taught Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, Ecology, AP Environmental Science, Senior Project Class, GATE Science, SDAIE Integrated Science, and Physical Science. The majority of my classroom teaching has been in low-income high schools where most of my students are second language learners. I have also had the opportunity to help design and start a project-based learning, charter school in Clovis, California. It was a tremendous learning experience to teach in an innovative, project-based learning environment for the 8 years that I worked at this school. I learned how to write an integrated project that included English and two Sciences, kept students engaged and on task and had relevance to real-world experiences. This experience forever changed how I design my lesson plans. I work diligently to include real-world applications in as much of my teaching as possible. I appreciate what my students have taught me and I continue to learn from them. They have taught me why they join gangs, why it is often difficult to stay in school, why they drop out, and what helps them succeed in the face of very difficult situations. I love to teach because it is a dynamic, reciprocal relationship between me, my students and my colleagues where I continue to learn more and more every day.
I believe in the old adage, "Learn by Doing." I do my best to make sure that I set up a learning environment where my students are "doing" as much as possible and I am the "coach" who is there to support them and guide their learning. I must then be willing and able to step back and allow the students to have "some" struggle without jumping in too quickly to solve their problems. It is a delicate balancing act moment by moment to determine when to help and when to let go. I also teach in a style where I realize that I must "open" a student's mind to want to learn the material first, before I begin to teach; I am always thinking about what the "hook" will be. This is why I plan all of my lessons with a "mind opening" activity and/or with a game/contest that is motivating.
Conservation Education Teacher of the Year-1993
I have an A.S. in Animal Science, a B.A. in Biological Sciences, an authorization in Chemistry and an M.S. degree in Psychology with an emphasis on Learning and the Brain.
I also enjoy training horses and dogs. There are many teaching principles that are the same throughout whether it is a human, a horse or a dog that is doing the learning.