I have. My dad is a physicist so I guess it runs in the family. I grew up loving math and physics. I knew I wanted a science related career, I just didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. At UCLA I studied chemical engineering and had a minor in bioengineering. After graduation, I attended Boston University where I focused on bioengineering and pharmacology. I fell in love with chemistry and knew I wanted to teach, so I completed my Masters at Penn State in Educational Technology.
How did you find your way to Roanoke?
My husband, Will, and I knew we wanted to move out of Boston. Will’s mother lived near Roanoke when Will was a child, and he spent his summers here. He was very fond of the area and thought it would be a good place to raise a family. I applied at schools all over the Roanoke Valley, and one day Paul Stellato called me for a phone interview. At the time I was pregnant with Matthew. A few weeks later, on the day Matthew was born, Tim Seeley called to set up a time for me to come interview in person. I came to Roanoke exactly one month later and was offered the job.
What science classes do you teach?
When I started at North Cross I actually taught chemistry and geometry, but now I only teach science related classes. I teach chemistry, AP Chemistry, and usually a science elective. Currently the elective is Forensics. Next year I am teaching a Science, Technology, Art, and Design class that will incorporate lab techniques and data analysis. It is based on our partnership with Virginia Tech and will continue to grow our STEM-D offerings.
What do you envision for the future of the STEM-D program at North Cross?
I would love to see a program that parallels the global studies program. We already have wonderful offerings in math and science that include honors, APs, and specialized electives; but I’m excited to see that continue to grow. As I mentioned before, there will be more STEM-D classes next year in addition to more computer science classes. It is amazing what the global studies program has accomplished in just a few years, and I know the same will be true for STEM-D.
I heard you have a “flipped classroom”. What exactly does that mean?
Yes, I studied the concept in graduate school and started it with my classes a few years ago. My regular and honors chemistry classes are taught in a flipped classroom which really allows me to focus on every student individually. The concept is based on mastery learning. The students watch lectures at home and do problems and labs in the classroom. Once an individual student masters a concept they move on to the next. I have found that a majority of students actually do better with this model; it allows the best students to truly excel and allows me to focus more on those that need extra help with the approach that best helps them learn.
What do you enjoy most about working at North Cross?
I love that I have an opportunity to build relationships with each of my students. My classes average 10-15 students so I get more one-on-one time with them which gives me a really good idea of where they are and what they need; they get more personalized teaching. I also love how personal the school is as a whole. When I’m teaching I know I can focus on my students and know that my kids, Matt ’23 and Abby ’16, are taken care of. The lower school teachers are really good about keeping me informed, and I try to do the same with my students; there is great communication within our community.