Minnesota Teachers of Earth Science

A Series of Profiles

Sarah Wellington
North End Elementary
St. Paul, Mn

Sarah Wellington is a five year veteran teacher at North End Elementary in St. Paul. Her Master's in Elementary Education from St. Catherine prepared Sarah to teach most of her 6th grade subjects. Science was the exception.

During her preservice training, Sarah was not required to take much science, was not taught how to teach science and was under the impression that all elementary schools had science specialists, as in her student teaching experience.

Sarah wasn't worried until she was hired by North End Elementary and faced a class of 36 students and no science specialist. She spent time on the internet, took her Foss manuals home on the weekends, and tried to stay ahead of her students. Now Sarah is the veteran teacher in her grade level, helping others with the science curriculum.

Through this effort, Sarah not only was able to put together the required lessons, she was able to model for her students that learning and hard work pays off. "Effort [is how I define a successful student]. I see lots of kids struggle mightily, but I see them progress ever so slowly." Hands on is the key for students to get hooked, Sarah goes on to explain.

"Hands on/exploratory activities are the most engaging for the students, but the teacher needs to learn how to be hands off and be able to tolerate noise and seeming chaos".

North End Elementary teachers, like so many others, face the issue of time constraints for preparing and executing lessons as well as lacking adequate materials for so many students. For Sarah, the most difficult part of teaching science is the lack of a solid knowedge base and not knowing relevant activites that would inspire interest in her students. Available resources and professional development activities addressing these issues would be the most beneficial for her.