Who is Grace?
I’ve lived in Jacksonville for most of my life. I’ve been doing some form of education since I was a teenager and it’s been a passion my whole life. I studied chemistry with a minor in biology at New College of Florida, and then pursued my Master of Education at DePaul University while living in Chicago. I’ve taught in many settings including public high schools, a private one-to-one school, and in the camp and education departments of multiple zoos. I have always loved working with kids and have worked with young people of all ages!
What is your teaching philosophy/style?
My teaching philosophy is informed by a passion for developing confidence in students who may not have seen themselves as future scientists or mathematicians before. I believe that creating exciting, hands-on, inquiry-based activities gives learners of all ages and backgrounds the ability to say, “Hey, that was actually really cool! Maybe I could do this kind of thing one day!” I try to keep that idea of sparking a new interest or self-image at the forefront of every demonstration, lesson, or activity that I design.
What do your students teach you?
My students teach me to expect the unexpected, and to deepen my learning everyday. I am constantly taken aback by incredibly thought-provoking and unexpected questions or ideas. I always love when I get stumped by a question. When that happens, we look it up on the spot and learn together! I will never stop learning and they will help me make sure of that!
How do you engage your students in STEAM learning?
STEAM is at the heart of everything we do in the education department at MOSH! Whether we are creating engineering-building challenges, presenting experiments in science shows, or finding geometry concepts that relate to our daily lives, we are always teaching STEAM concepts! We incorporate art into our activities by giving students a chance to build on those ideas in creative ways, like designing their own robots or creating art from a flower dissection!
What are you looking forward to in the new Museum?
I’m most excited about how the additional space and resources will allow us to build relationships with more of the community. Right now, we do our best to ensure that everyone who comes to the museum has an impactful learning experience, but with the new museum, we will have more opportunities to provide those experiences to even more Jacksonville community members and beyond!
How do you incorporate inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility in educational programming?
I try to encourage all students to see themselves as scientists, mathematicians, etc. Women and people of color are often underrepresented in these fields, so I want to make sure that everything that we do helps to build that confidence and self-image so that ALL young people will be more likely to find themselves in those career paths.
Who or what inspired you to become a teacher?
I started tutoring math in high school and almost everyone I worked with told me something to the effect of “I’m not a math person, ” and this idea that some people could be successful and others couldn’t just felt so wrong to me – there’s no such thing as a math person or a science person. We are all capable of learning these subjects when they’re taught to us in a way that we can engage with. It just takes someone willing to make the effort to figure out what that looks like for each person, and I want to help people believe that about themselves!
What are you doing when you’re not educating future STEAM leaders?
I’m an avid bird-watcher, so on my days off you’ll often find me in parks with my binoculars and camera! I also like to draw and paint, and I love to play board games and video games.
The closest thing I have to a super power is my ability to turn anything into a spreadsheet, even things that have no business being a spreadsheet.