Throughout my academic career, I have been heavily involved in tutoring and mentoring programs and relationships. During high school (Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts), I tutored for those struggling with the standardized test for Florida, FCAT. I was also in the French club and thus was required to complete at least 8 tutoring hours in French per month.
During my time at Stetson University, I participated in two years of undergraduate research under my mentor, Dr. Alicia Slater, studying the phylogenetic structure of the stonefly, Hesperoperla pacifica. After a semester in the lab, Dr. Slater required that all upperclassmen (I participated during my junior and senior years) mentored underclassmen who were interested in independent study or undergraduate research to familiarize them with techniques, strategies, and the time commitment and level of knowledge required. The students would first shadow the mentors in the lab and then be assigned smaller personal projects that contributed to the mentors overall work. The close relationship I formed with my mentee was gratifying and facilitated a deeper understanding of the procedures and characteristics of the study. This program also initiated me tutoring for several of the mentees and their friends in biology classes I had already taken or was in with them.
During my junior year, I was the native planting intern for Volusia County Environmental Management under the supervision of Georgia Zern. This remains one of my favorite internship experiences, as there were constant hands-on opportunities that almost always incorporated a teaching aspect. I was in charge of designing numerous teaching programs, activities, discussions, projects, etc for all age groups. I designed a pollinator habitat and implemented educational material throughout the process of building it with school groups. We hosted several programs to remove and document exotic/invasive species and educated families on what we can do to uphold environmental stewardship and the impacts that result if we dont. I created decks of identification cards to allow someone with a non-botanical background to recognize species native and beneficial to the area. Another intern and I interacted this internship with the botany class we were enrolled in at the time; we wrote grants to Volusia County to fund a sandhill restoration project with our class on Stetson campus. It became a certified wildlife area, as we wrote, designed, and installed educational supplements about the habitat along the trail.
Throughout my university enrollment, I was very involved in a variety of student organizations. I was especially passionate about those through which I could see direct improvements and significant changes being facilitated. Hatter Harvest organization will always have a special place in my heart for the efforts made towards sustainability, health, empowerment, quality of life, and most of all, educating on how to achieve this. I was very involved in creating and planning numerous programs, discussions, lectures, events, etc. I especially progressed in this type of educational and growth facilitation when I was a resident assistant during my junior year at Stetson. My resident population encompassed a hundred freshman girls, thus my efficiency and clearness in communication and ability to maintain a groups attention grew. Stetson was a very rigorous yet rewarding school and I had many other such opportunities where teaching a concept and clearing communicating an idea is crucial. For my molecular ecology course, we designed educational boards for the local Blue Springs State Park, in which we had to convey the importance of genetic diversity and concept of species differentiation at a fourth grade level.
I worked at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Tampa, Florida between November 2014 -May 2015 as a science educator spreading the importance and knowledge of the Science Technology Arts Education and Math (STEAM) initiative. This position brought me great fulfillment from experiencing the excitement and wonder as young minds discover the beauty of a natural phenomenon or learn about the research of a pioneer scientist that uncovered another mystery of our world. Much of the job entailed educational program and interactive performances on subjects of various scientific themes. I worked throughout the museum doing exhibit operations or conducting mini demonstrations based on the section of the museum I was positioned in. My favorite areas to work were the butterfly garden or the native plant garden outside, as I love to spread awareness about the state of our ecosystems and the responsibility we have of environmental stewardship. I am very grateful for this job, as it has greatly improved my teaching and program planning, ability to convey ideas and concepts, knowledge of the museum/educational attractions industry, funding processes, and much more.
I also worked as an apprentice for herbalist Willow Lamonte, helping manage her garden and organizing sells and events, as well as with lectures and discussions hosted at her house. I gained new insights on teaching while working with Willow, as she did not allow notes to be taken during the lecture so as to require engagement and active discussion from the whole group. She really facilitated connections about patterns in nature, themes in science, and the like to be made, thus creating the sensation that pieces of a larger puzzle were coming together. This way, the information is committed to the longer term and the students have made a personal connection with this new knowledge. At the end of the lectures, Willow finally encouraged all notes and thoughts to be recorded. They always proved to be more fluid and insightful, building on the information and ideas of the preceding discussion.
Summer 2015, I participated in another outside of the classroom educational endeavor as an AmeriCorps member for the Wyoming Conservations Corps. We collaborated with the park service (national and state) and other industry partners to conduct conservation projects throughout the state. I gained first hand insight on how lands are managed and became proficient in skills including trail building/maintenance, campground and habitat restoration, ecological and historical education, chainsawing (removal of beetle kills trees and environmentally disturbing species), fencing (wild-life friendly, elk boundary, buck and rail, etc), mapping, surveying. I grew significantly in my ability to lead a group, particularly in a high stress wilderness environment. We had many opportunities to educate during this experience, especially for guests in the various parks who saw us at work. It was vital to educate successfully because often there were great safety hazards if the information was not communicated effectively or correctly. There were also members on the crew who had less experience with wilderness safety, tools, and hard labor experience, so education about proper procedures and clear communication during work was essential.
I truly find teaching opportunities exponentially throughout my life but for the sake of length, I cant detail all of them here. The above descriptions are the most significant and gratifying positions Ive held, and I continue to seek more persistently. Currently I am working at the University of South Florida Herbarium under curator Dr. Alan Franck. This job is incredibly educational for me but is also constantly facilitating the flow of this knowledge through me, as I cant resist sharing what I learn to all around me. I guarantee that any student paired with me will not only wholeheartedly become one with the new knowledge, but find a passion and insatiable curiosity for learning, studying, and reaching past all limits. As calculus wonderfully proclaims, the limit does not exist!
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Stetson University - Bachelors, Biology, General
Reading, exploration/travel, yoga, meditation, scuba diving, violin/mandolin, gardening/cultivation, hiking, camping, kayaking, writing, art, culinary, creativity and curiosity!
Q & A
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I get to know the student and discuss their interests and aspirations. I find out what subjects they really enjoy or dislike and why this is the case. I find out their personal learning preferences and techniques as well as share my experiences. I try to relate with things that will engage the student. I create a comfortable, respectful atmosphere and clearly communicate that I want the student to succeed! I also give examples of the multitude of study techniques and strategies that we might try!
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I give them exercises to do on their own. I encourage really quality note taking so that material can be referenced, without confusion, on their own. I share resources for various subjects that can serve as an information look-up when tutors aren't available. I encourage the students to always ask questions and to never hesitate if something is not understood. I draw connections throughout the material so the student develops a mindset of interconnectedness and sees the relevance of sections of the material.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I provide incentives, such as games and fun, if a certain amount of work is completed or high marks are received. After some time working with the student, I always like to surprise them with how much they know (since we would have been using very efficient study methods and focusing on long term memory!) and this always proves to be highly motivating. This can be implemented through mini pop quizzes, asking the student to recreate a situation we've been learning about and explaining why each part is the way it is, etc. I create checkpoints so that the student feels a progressive sense of accomplishment and avoid creating the feeling that there is endless work to drudge through. I also create interesting contexts for the material so that students can pull it into their everyday life and form a connection with it.
What is your teaching philosophy?
I keep things as enjoyable and fun as possible! Of course, we want to be productive and of utmost efficiency, but learning should be inspiring and enthralling. I want to help instill a love and curiosity that will motivate the student. There are always new strategies, study techniques, and approaches that can be experimented with if something is not working. I want communication to be open. A comfortable, respectful relationship should be upheld so that the tutoring sessions will be as beneficial as possible. I am flexible and creative. If something I am facilitating isn't helping, I guarantee I can find something that will work. I find it helpful to set goals and celebrate each achievement so that mastery of the whole product is not daunting. I firmly believe in efficiency and will work to help the student commit information to long-term memory. This is to establish a firm foundation and make future study smoother. Creating connections and contexts as well as having open discussion allows the student to bring in personality and their own thoughts so the information is relatable and interesting.