Doing without cookie cutter labs

Teacher Ambassador Kristina Koster

Kristina Koster first became interested in teaching as a tutor for the TRIO Upward Bound program while in junior college. The program helps low-income, first-generation college-bound students get into and succeed in college by providing free afterschool tutoring, Saturday educational workshops, and college visits. Kristina recalls, “I was able to see that I could combine my love for helping people with my love for science.”

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Never stop learning

Teacher Ambassador Emerlyn Gatchalian

As a child, Emerlyn Gatchalian was always the teacher: “I’d always get the role of teacher whenever I had playtime with my friends.”

She began her formal teaching career in the Philippines, where a passionate chemistry teacher, who sometimes wore a magician hat and waved a fairy wand, inspired her love for teaching science. “She made learning so exciting and fun,” Emerlyn says. In 2005, after a decade teaching in the Philippines, Emerlyn came to the U.S., but, “Teaching here was so different.” Coming from a more disciplined classroom tradition, she wasn’t used to class management issues. So she sought additional training and learned to implement new classroom routines and policies.

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Making connections between the classroom and home

Teacher Ambassador Thomas Troy

Thomas Troy’s dream vacation includes a trip to the Arctic “to witness rapid climate change,” but the best adventure he’s ever had was much closer to the equator. He and his family spent five weeks on a homestay in Costa Rica where they took classes to learn Spanish, which were “both rigorous and rewarding.” While his family “took advantage of opportunities to get to know as many Costa Ricans (or Ticos) as possible, such as local clerks, waiters, and teachers,” they also found time to go snorkeling, bird watching, and swimming.

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Teaching a world of students

Teacher Ambassador Karla Orosco

The Akers School is on the relatively remote Lemoore Naval Air Station located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, an important agricultural region. Karla Orosco has been teaching 7th grade integrated science classes and electives for 18 years to Akers students who come from all over the U.S., as well as all over the world—Japan, Guam, the Philippines, and European bases.

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Making history

Teacher Ambassador Barbara Algarin

Barbara Algarin was a chemistry major who also tutored other students in chemistry while in college and afterwards. “I had always dreamed of becoming a veterinarian, but I felt I was good at helping others in school. Then my mom mentioned that New York City was looking for people to become teachers,” she explains. Feeling at a crossroads and wanting a change, Barbara applied for a New York City Teaching Fellowship, a program that prepares applicants to teach high-needs subjects such as science in New York City classrooms. The first time she applied, they lost her application. She persisted, and applied again the following year and was accepted.

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Creative teaching from plate tectonics to plant pollinators

Teacher Ambassador Christine Fernandes

Christine Fernandes began as a horticulture major at Pennsylvania State University, but transferred to agricultural education so she could become a teacher. She absolutely loves her career choice. She learned about the Concord Consortium through a listserv from her alma mater. We’re collaborating with Penn State on our GEODE project to develop new geodynamic plate tectonic modeling software for middle school students. The software is designed to allow students to observe and describe the formation of surface geologic features in terms of plate interactions. Christine explains, “It really clicked for the students, seeing what was happening below the ground in relation to the size and magnitude of the earthquakes along the western coast of South America.”

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