- ’12 BS Elementary Education
- ’14 MS Elementary Education
What drew you to pursuing a career in education and why did you choose the University of Nevada, Reno, and the College of Education & Human Development?
Well if you asked middle school me, I would have said I wanted to be a professional snowboarder! But with the help of my sister, I realized that education was for me. During my first two years at the University of Nevada, Reno, I hadn’t declared a major but was considering studying history. At the time I worked at an afterschool program, and my sister said I should take an education class. Which I did and I really liked it!
What were your favorite traditions at UNR?
Basketball and football games! I made a lot of good friends in the College of Education & Human Development, and we are all teachers now and stay in touch. It’s a great networking and support system!
How did your education in the College of Education & Human Development contribute to your career and life journey?
I had a lot of really good professors, but two were most influential. Dr. (Lynda) Wiest challenged her students but was also incredibly supportive. And Dr. (Teruni) Lamberg was a great professor and was someone that could help her students through times of stress. I remember one of my professors telling me to “just be yourself,” and I took that with me into teaching. Building relationships with the students is key to their learning and a part of teaching that I really enjoy.
What are you most proud of in your professional life?
I’ve been teaching at Billinghurst now for eight years, and during that time, I am most proud of my relationships with my students and seeing them go on to good things. I’m also so proud of how I’ve developed my vision for our STEM lab, and taken advantage of outside activities to expand my knowledge and teaching skills. I love the NASA spacesuit hanging on my wall. It reminds me of when I went to the Honeywell Educators Space Academy at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. It was a week-long program where selected educators from all over the world participate. I believe in my year, 5,000 people applied and 150 were accepted. I was the only one from Nevada! We were put into teams and I had other educators on my team from California, Oregon, Florida, Kenya, South Korea, Czech Republic, Mexico, China, and Brazil.
We were given different sorts of challenges to do throughout the week that we had to work together to solve. One example was creating a balloon car from cardboard, straws and a balloon in under 20 minutes. I now use this in my classroom but students have time to make three cars in order to create the best car they can. We were given a lot of challenges where we had to solve problems without much information. I use this in my class to help kids learn to use different resources and to try their own ideas to see what works and what can be improved.
I was also able to participate in training similar to what astronauts do, such as land a space shuttle, work on the International Space Station, experience gravity on the moon, go on a G-Force tester, and more. I also got to meet many astronauts and people from NASA.
It was an amazing experience that I took back to my classroom with so much more hands-on and engaging activities for my students.
What advice would you give to students following in your footsteps today?
The advice I would give up and coming teachers is to take the time to get to know and talk with your professors. They care and want you to succeed. Also, have fun, make friends and start subbing. Subbing allows you to get experience and find what grade level you like. Don’t forget to have business cards made up so you have them on hand when subbing!
What has been a recent meaningful moment for you in your teaching? We are calling these “Moments that Matter”.
My first year at Billinghurst I taught math. I had a student who struggled with different external issues and got into quite a bit of trouble. We talked and I told her if she doesn’t get an A, that is okay. When she came back in 8th grade, something changed in her and she started getting better grades and was a different student.
I recently ran into her at Raley’s. She is now a senior in McQueen High School, and has a full ride to Oklahoma State as a pre-med student. She told me I was the teacher who pushed her. Another time, I had a student tell me that she was going to the University of Nevada, Reno to get her teaching license because of me. It means so much to me to get this feedback from former students.