Honors Chemistry Teacher

I finished my first semester as the Honors Chemistry teacher at Salpointe Catholic High School. This blog post is a small window into my world.  It’s long, so feel free to browse through and read only the interesting parts!

I have four classes of Honors Chem with a total of 87 students -mostly sophomores with a few freshman, juniors and seniors. I also have one Environmental Science class which is a junior/senior science class, which gives me a grand total of 113 students.

My chemistry classes are on the same schedule, so I plan one lesson and teach the same thing four times over. I’ve been amazed how much better I understand the concepts myself, after teaching it the fourth time in one day. Many times mid-sentence (with 28 pairs of eyes looking at me), I’ve paused in my lecture. On the outside it appears I’m just trying to find a better way to phrase the last point I made. But on the inside there is a light bulb that just went on as I finally understood something about chemistry I somehow missed throughout my own schooling. In my head I grin and dance a jig, as I plunge ahead rephrasing the concepts for the kids according to how I newly understand it.

I’ve always loved learning, and seriously, being a teacher is the best way to keep on learning!

With my chemistry kids we did a lab experiment where they had to find out how many molecules are in one bite of cookie, and one swallow of Kool-Aid. Yes, they loved that one because they got to eat in lab, which is usually a HUGE no-no. I scared them into not letting their cookie touch anything but the napkin or their own hand and also scared them into asking for a new cookie if one did touch something else. You know, all the horrible things that could happen if you ingest any chemical from a lab… insides turning out, spontaneous combustion… Don’t know how many of them believed me, but it did the trick. We were safe during that lab activity. 🙂

The Environmental Science class is a bit of a chore for me. I don’t know the content at all, other than the first half of the text book I scrambled to read over the summer. Thankfully, there are two other teachers who teach the same class that help me immensely with the lesson planning. They advised me to be 1 week behind them so they could tell me what they did, pass on their lesson plans, lab materials, and tell me what worked and what didn’t work. That has helped me a lot. The Salpointe Catholic community is amazing, and this is just one of many examples.

In the ES class we did a project about water capacity of different soils. We also did a radish seed lab where we planted radish seeds and tested different soil stresses and then did some data analysis to compare with the control group of radish plants. The students know I’m new at this content and we have a good time learning together. We’ve learned about succession, growth of populations in an ecosystem, trophic levels and keystone species in an ecosystem, environmental development and much more.

Once a year at Salpointe Catholic, the entire school (students, teachers, staff) takes a break from our regular schedule and spends two days doing community service. We call these two days Impact. Over 1400 people spread out all over Tucson, covering over 50 different places, doing work in our community. I spent the first day at Iskashitaa with 2 dozen students where we worked along side refugees processing pumpkins, beans and figs. The kids worked hard and we enjoyed asking the refugees questions about their journey and learning from them.

The second Impact day I spent with another large hand full of students working in the Santra Cruz River, cleaning up garbage, clearing out invasive species, planting other species to help the dwindling population of monarch butterflies, and learning about the Tucson environment and how we can care for it. These two days were a lot of hard work, I was more exhausted after Impact than two regular days of school/learning/lesson planning/grading. I’m very glad Salpointe Catholic continues to do Impact as it helps all of us keep in perspective the important things of life.

Too often, for both students and teachers, academics is all we think about, how we can get better grades, how many more topics we can cram in before the end of the month/semester. Impact was a great way to change our focus, remind us of other things in life that are worth our time, and of course, a great way to give back to our community, and teach and model many good habits to our students that only come outside the classroom.

At Salpointe Catholic we pray at the beginning of each class period. This also helps us put things into perspective, calms the class down, and paves the way for the lesson we have at hand. Many times before the prayer, students ask if there are any special intentions (prayer requests) and though no one goes in depth, this is a good way to remind me that the students have busy and often stressful lives outside the four walls of my classroom. I’m not a teacher for the money. I’m not a teacher for any fame or power. I’m a teacher for the influence I can have over students. I’m a teacher for the times I can encourage a student, give a smile where one is needed most, offer a listening ear. The students have much to offer me as well. The moments when a student says I look nice, or that I look happy, or is a “good teacher”, are the moments that fuel my day and sometimes my whole week.

I can honestly say that the students are both the best and the worst parts about teaching. They are both inspiring and draining at the same time.

Over this winter break I’ve enjoyed some extra sleep, some good books, lots of relaxing, and spending time with my family, and of course, my favorite person and best friend, my boyfriend Jacob.

I received an amaryllis bulb at the beginning of December from Salpointe’s campus ministry department. It’s an advent flower that grows during Advent, and blooms during Christmas time. I kept it on my desk at school as a constant reminder of the season, preparing for the coming of the Savoir of the World, Jesus Christ. I brought it home for the break and am now enjoying a beautiful flower.

This week I’ll begin some lesson planning, preparing for school to start up again on January 8th. We’ll be diving into some electrochemistry, acids and bases, periodic table trends, geometric shapes of molecules, thermochemistry, and maybe even a bit of organic chemistry.

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year, I know I will!

 

 

 

 

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Class of 2017

I did it! I’m done with school… well, done with being on the student end of school 🙂

I graduated from the University of Arizona with a BS in Science Education: Chemistry Emphasis, and a minor in biochemistry. I won Outstanding Senior for my department in the college of science. My boyfriend and my parents came to that awards ceremony:

I love this man with my whole heart. I’m so proud of him. He graduated also, and is now a licensed EMT. The handsomest one, in my opinion 🙂

I love my parents! They’ve been so supportive of me through my journey at the U of A. I’m so thankful for them.

Jacob has been very sweet, gentle, and supportive of me the past few years, holding my hand when it got rough, and letting me cry on his shoulder whenever I needed to… which ended up being a lot this semester. I had so much going on, I felt very overwhelmed. I was in full time student teaching 7th & 8th grade science which included lesson planning, grading, assigning homework, parent/teacher/student conferences, and professional development meetings, plus I had a load of education and science classes on top of that. When I look back, the past few months are a blur. Tassel worth the hassle? YEP!

University of Arizona’s College of Science commencement ceremony 2017: Yes, I’m somewhere down there with the graduates 🙂

Here’s three of the other Science Education graduates, we’ve had a lot of fun together the past 2 years:

Jacob’s brother and sister also graduated from the college of science. Samantha was in the Science Education program with me, and we enjoyed going through student teaching together this semester:

Next steps:

This week and next I’m taking my teacher certification examinations and finishing up student teaching (we have to continue until the school district is out).

I already have a job lined up for next fall. I’m teaching honors chemistry at a private school in town. I’m so excited about this opportunity, I’m looking forward to lesson planning over the summer!

I really enjoyed being a student, I can honestly say I’m going to miss it. But I have to say I had a difficult time being a student AND a teacher this semester. I’m definitely looking forward to being “just a teacher” next year.

Enjoy your summer! I know I will 🙂

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Happy Easter!

Hello everyone!

I have something to share with you all that I am very excited about. One year ago, Easter 2016, I was confirmed into the Catholic Church. Yes, you read that right! I am a Catholic. Ever since then, it has continued to be the best decision I have made in my entire life. I love being Catholic. My faith in Jesus Christ has been strengthened like never before through this journey.

If you’d like to read more about my spiritual journey, you can go to the blog I created just for that purpose, called Grace.

I hope you all have a blessed Easter, rejoicing because Christ is Risen!

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Student Teacher

Well, I’m officially a student teacher! I’ve completed my first week at a local middle school with my mentor teacher, teaching 7th and 8th grade science in the GATE program. So far I’ve made the new seating charts for this quarter and placed the students into new lab groups. Everyday I take attendance, help the students with any independent work and projects they have, and do any thing else my mentor teacher wants help with or wants me to learn. I’ve already learned the names of almost all of the 112 students. In a few weeks, I will take over one of the classes, doing all the lesson planing, teaching, homework assigning and grading, while the mentor teacher takes a “back seat”. Each week after that I will take over another class, until I am preparing and teaching all the class periods.

Last Friday, I went on a field trip with the 8th graders to the Pima Air & Space museum.

Over the next few months I’ll be teaching Earth History and Astronomy to the 7th graders, and Genetics and Physics to the 8th graders.

Thanks for reading my last few blog entries about my journey to becoming a teacher. I’m almost there! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m so thankful for my boyfriend and parents for supporting me and encouraging me through all of this, and for being patient with me when I’m stressed and overwhelmed in the middle of a semester.

Over the winter break I worked at Hubrich Dental,

made bread a few times,

and spent Christmas Eve with my family, and Christmas Day with Jacob’s family. I went to Pinetop with Jacob and his family and met some of his baby cousins and saw a bit of snow.

For New Year’s Eve, Jacob and I went to Bob and Lydia’s house for another amazing party they put on with all of our close friends.

The weekend before I started student teaching, Mom and Lydia and I had a mother/daughter time and got a pedicure.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, a Happy New Year, and a restful break from normal, busy life.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Posted in Arizona, Christmas, cooking/baking, deliciousness, family, friends, girly stuff, school, Snow | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

School and family

Here’s a quick update from a teacher in training:

I’m now a senior at the U of A, half way done with this semester. I have 5 classes: physical chemistry, biochemistry, plant biochemistry, chemistry discoveries in the classroom, and classroom management. I have an internship this semester with a local high school. I was assigned to the chemistry teacher there, Mrs. Wolpa, and I visit her 5th period class every day. This past week, and this next week I am teaching her 5th period class using lessons I planned and were approved by Mrs. Wolpa. This has been a nerve racking, but great experience for me. I love all the kids in this class. Here is the empty classroom before the bell rang:

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This is technically my last semester with a regular load of classes, as next semester I will be full time student teaching. So, I will have a “teacher” schedule rather than a “student” schedule. I already know where I am student teaching, at a local middle school, with the GATE science teacher. I am super excited to be working with 7th and 8th graders!

My boyfriend, Jacob, encourages me in my studies and is excited for me to become a teacher. He constantly tells my how proud of me he is. I feel very blessed he is in my life.

img_3644-2My Mom took these next few pictures at my sister’s birthday party:

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This past weekend I went on a mini vacation with Jacob and his family. We went to Sea World in San Diego and had a great time!

img_3808 img_3794-2 img_3761I found this accident picture on my phone. I like it 🙂
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So, that’s a peep into my life, and now I better get back to homework!

Posted in Arizona, birthdays, family | 6 Comments

First semester at the U of A – Completed

So, I survived my first semester at the U of A, yet not with out plenty of tears, laughs, frustration, and lots and lots of craziness. Many days I felt completely overwhelmed and never would’ve gotten through it without my amazing boyfriend, Jacob. He encouraged me and held my hand though most of it, literally, as well as figuratively. I love that guy so much.

Overall, I had a great time and am really looking forward to next semester, now that I have adjusted to university life!

I had one physics class, one “science teaching” class, and three chemistry classes. In the science teaching class I learned about the nature of science, how to teach science for understanding, and also the role of assessment in student learning. I spent 8 hours in a high school class and 8 hours in a middle school class, observing, helping the teacher, introducing lab activities, and also talking with the students. I really enjoyed getting this practical training/learning right at the beginning.

This class is designed to help students find out if they still want to teach science. Before I took this class I wanted to teach science. After taking this class, I know I REALLY want to teach science. I enjoy talking with other teachers, learning from them, and discussing the teaching methods I’m learning. I especially like talking to my mom, a teacher of 20+ years, my own K-12 teacher, as well as my inspiration for being a teacher. Thanks, Mom!

I love living so close to the university, being able to walk or bike to class is a great feeling. Walking around on campus and watching the hundreds and hundreds of people swarming the streets and buildings makes me thankful I am able to be a part of something so huge and so amazing.

IMG_1389I have chickens in my backyard 🙂

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This is my beginner jump rope class at the YMCA right before their first performance:

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Whenever I am with my little sisters, Molly and Hope, they usually ask if my boyfriend Jake is coming too. If not, then they ask me to take a picture of them to send to him. Jake enjoys getting pictures of the “little ladies” as he calls them. This was one of those times:

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Jacob and I at a friends wedding:

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Speaking of weddings….

My cousin Kami got married in September. Lydia and I were brides maids, and Molly and Hope were flower girls:

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And, Bob and Lydia are engaged!

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The following picture was taken on Christmas Day (2015). It will soon be outdated as we will be gaining a brother-in-law shortly 🙂

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Merry Christmas! I hope you all have a wonderful New Year. May God bless you in your adventures.

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Last bit of summer

Summer is drawing to a close and my ten weeks of Organic Chemistry are over. I enjoyed O Chem 2 better than O Chem 1, getting to prepare alcohols, esters, acids, aldehydes, ketones, etc. both on paper and in LAB.

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My brain was so very tired after finishing both classes. I slept for 13 hours the night after my final.

This past weekend I moved into a small one bedroom apartment near the university. I will be able to walk to school.

My mom and couple siblings helped me clean it.

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IMG_1088School starts next Monday… My first semester at the U of A! My boyfriend took me on a walk the other day and he showed me where all my classes will be in the different science buildings. Having been a double science major for three years, he knows his way around 🙂

Probably won’t be blogging again until this semester is over… see you at the other end of the tunnel!

Go Wildcats!

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Summer Stuff

This summer I am taking both semesters of Organic Chemistry through Pima Community College, my last two classes before going to the U of A in the fall.

Both summer classes are 5 weeks long, 4 days a week, 5 hours a day.

Organic Chemistry 1

Week 1:

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Week 2:IMG_0221Week 3:

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Week 4:

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Week 5: (today was my final!)

IMG_0572This morning was my final for O Chem 1. I now have about 45 hours before the first day of O Chem 2. Stretching out on the floor and doing nothing sounds very good right about now.

In my few moments of spare time this past month I have had fun making these head bands, inspired by pinterest.

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And yes, I actually did highlight my hair!

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This last picture was taken on my birthday a few days ago. Jacob and I have been dating for 7 months and I love him more every day. (And yes, for a brief moment we were babysitting the monkey “Bananas” for a younger sibling of mine!)

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Posted in Arizona, birthdays, family, girly stuff, school, sewing/knitting | 7 Comments

Little Lord Fauntleroy

My latest audio book was published on LibriVox today!

“Little Lord Fauntleroy” by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

I recorded and edited this book as a dramatic reading. I also narrated the book and had to cast many different readers for each character.

This book stars my little brother Steven as Cedric, the hero of the story.

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Click here, to download Little Lord Fauntleroy for FREE!!!

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This story is about an American lad of 7 years old who lives with his young widowed mother in New York. He spends his days with his friend the grocery man Mr. Hobbs, the boot black Dick, and other young lads from his town. His best friend is his mother, whom he calls dearest, because that is what his papa used to call her. Cedric has curly blond hair, a sturdy young body, and a beautiful face that is only matched by his sweet temperament. He is always thinking of others and what they might need.

One day, an English lawyer comes to Cedric’s house with news that will change his young life forever. Cedric’s papa was the son of a great Earl in England. The earl has lost all three of his sons and is now looking for his heir. He is a crusty old gentlemen with a hard, cold heart. He has spent his life chasing after his own pleasures and not caring one mite for the needs of others, especially the needs his tenantry. He is extremely prejudiced against Americans and was outraged when his youngest son married an American woman. His proud heart views with disgust his young heir before he even meets him, expecting him to be rude, uneducated, and selfish. Little does he know that the meeting of the Earl of Dorincourt with little Cedric is destined to change his life forever.

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I hope you enjoy the book. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Happy Listening!

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I am a Wildcat!!!

I got accepted to the U of A! I am enrolled in the degree Science Education: Chemistry Emphasis. This degree is basically a chemistry major with a teaching minor. I will graduate with my bachelors of science and earn my teaching certificate at the same time.

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This summer I am taking my last class from Pima Community College and graduating with my Associates of Science. I am very ready to start in the Fall at the U of A. Go Wildcats!!!

I still enjoy school, which is a good thing because I have at least two more years. I like the homework, the study, the amount of knowledge I am learning. I get excited when I learn new concepts, master old concepts, and then get the chance to tutor a fellow student.

I like studying in various places: starbucks, library, or the tutoring center at school. But my favorite place is at home, with my own homemade flavored iced coffee.

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Though I am looking forward to when I will be working as a teacher, I know I am going to enjoy the path it takes to get there. I am in no hurry. Bring on the homework!

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