Teaching a world of students

The Concord Consortium’s Teacher Ambassador program commemorates our 25th anniversary by recognizing 25 outstanding teachers who have included our digital inquiry resources into their STEM classrooms. We congratulate them on their innovation and creativity.

Karla Orosco, Admiral Akers School, Lemoore, CA

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.

Teaching on an air base has unique challenges. “There is stress for students whose parent is deployed on a carrier for eight to ten months or on short deployment trainings,” Karla explains. “I lose anywhere from 15-25% of my students each year and get new ones.”

Model My Watershed provided her with an effective way to teach students, who mostly aren’t originally from California, about the local geography and the consequences of drought for a region heavily dependent on agriculture. “Model My Watershed gave me much better ways to teach about our water resources,” she says. Her students not only learned the name of their local watershed and its characteristics, they engineered a water purification system in the classroom.

Karla would like to include subjects such as genetics and genomics, evolution, and anatomy in her curriculum, but her schedule doesn’t leave much wiggle room. “I look forward to applying some new educational protocols that I’ve been reading about this year,” she says.

Teacher Ambassador Karla Orosco

After teaching for 26 years overall, she runs into former students frequently. (Her hairdresser is a student from her first year teaching.) “Once I got an email from a student who moved to Texas after attending our school,” says Karla. “She wanted to thank me for being a role model as a science teacher and woman of color.”

Teacher Ambassador Karla Orosco

Karla would love to see Alaska someday, but that hasn’t kept her from jumping into the warm waters off the coast of Cancun to swim with whale sharks. Although she laments the destruction of the coral reefs from Hurricane Wilma and rising water temperatures, she still loves the rich sea life there.

While Karla has taught a variety of classes over her career (“I joke that I’m going to go into standup comedy to share my 25 years teaching middle school sex education”), her serious new focus is learning about dementia so she can care for her dad. Although he was one of nine children and only acquired a high school education, he was intelligent and an avid reader, Karla says. “Both my parents were very proud that I chose education.”

Favorite ice cream: Lemon from Superior Dairy in her hometown of Hanford, CA