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Behind the Desk of a High-School Science Teacher
Addie Embry

Addie Embry not only has great achievements in education, but also in the world of science. She graduated from Texas A&M with a bachelors of science in Genetics, got her master’s degree from the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio, and earned her doctorate in Microbiology and Immunology in 2011. After completing postdoctoral research and teaching labs at Trinity, she fell in love with teaching and graduated from Trinity’s Master of Arts in Education program in 2021. Two years ago, she received the NOLES Fellowship, a program for STEM teachers across the country. We sat down with her to discuss her experiences as a STEM teacher, an MAT graduate, and a NOLES recipient.

Q: Where are you teaching now? What grade and what is the class size?
A: Currently, I am at TMI Episcolap, it’s a private school on the north side of town. I started teaching here in January. I teach sophomore chemistry and junior biology and they’re both honors.

Q: What do you love the most about your current job?
A: I like the small size of the school and the community here is great; everyone is very supportive and there are good social and emotional norms. I have a lot of one on one time with my department leads and the admin. I have some of the largest class sizes of the school and my max size is 20 students.

Q: What helps you avoid teacher burnout?
A: Trying to step back, take time for myself, and say I don’t have to have everything perfect all the time. I try not to take work home. I will set a timer for tasks for myself, just to remind myself to take a break. Having a good rapport, knowing the people and students you work with, and them knowing your boundaries. I think communication is a really important thing to get across. 

Q: What is your favorite memory from the MAT program
A: I think one of my favorite memories is when we first all met in person on campus in Storch. Aside from the masks, we had never been together in the same spot and we were just shocked. We thought we knew each other pretty well but then we actually knew each other in person, which was pretty cool.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your experience receiving the Noles Fellowship
A: So I was kind of surprised I got it. I applied for it and there were several rounds of the application process and I kept getting invited back for the next stage. The final round, I thought I blew it. I had a rough night and my mindset just wasn’t in the game and I didn’t feel great about my zoom interview. I just thought I had to reapply next year and I got an email saying I got it! I was really excited and I felt really honored, it’s been one of the best things ever.

Q: How do you think this award will help your career?
A: It’s given me a lot of professional development that I wouldn’t have had opportunities to have otherwise. It’s also given me opportunities to make friends and colleague partnerships all over the country. There are four of us here in Texas and another Trinity grad, just giving a shoutout to Ashley Gans. They give us a monetary grant that we can use for pretty much anything, including books and trips. 

Q: What career plans do you have in the next few years?
A: I still plan to teach science, I hope to stay here at TMI. I just want to develop as a teacher, I have a lot to learn and it’s one thing to have your doctorate in science and be a practicing scientist but it’s another animal to teach science. It’s very humbling and it’s a lot of work but I’m passionate about it, so I really want to become excellent at it and that’s my goal.

Q: How did the MAT program help prepare you for your job?
A: I think the MAT program did great things to help prepare me for my job, it really gave me some insight of what teaching is going to be like, what it means, teaching strategies specifically and how to use and apply them. Being able to work with people and get criticism from people in different fields was very useful and very helpful.

Q: As a teacher, give some insight on the need for STEM teachers. 
A: There is a huge need for stem teachers, especially really qualified stem teachers. I’m not sure why, but I feel like when people get into stem, their goal is usually for higher-paying positions and that’s a big driver. I feel like there’s a type of person that becomes a teacher that isn’t necessarily the type of person that would be a stem major. The overlap is a bit smaller than in some other fields. They’re hard subjects and notoriously hard to teach. People who want to go into teaching often stray away from those things, because they’re intimidated by them.

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