Science department grows

Simon Hodge, Reporter

Abigail Urban is one of the new science teachers this year at Newton High School, her enthusiastic and hands-on teaching style is sure to motivate any classroom. Urban received her Masters degree at Wichita State University and is now participating in the transition to teaching program. This year she is teaching life science and integrated science II.

The undergraduate college Urban attended was located in Maine, named College of the Atlantic. The school had approximately 300 students all majoring in human ecology. Urban says her college was very unique and focused on practical skills that you learn outdoors instead of on a computer. 

“There are no prerequisites so you design your own education, it’s very self directed,” Urban said. “If there wasn’t a class that you wanted to learn you could make one… it was all hands on, not like a lot of other colleges where you walk in and stare at a computer screen, if you needed to go look at some lobsters you could go down to the beach.”

Urban later attended WSU as a teachers assistant, where she taught science labs at the college level. Due in part to this shift in age from college to highschool from both of her teaching jobs, Urban has had to make adjustments to her teaching style.

“Where I was teaching before I was teaching college students, and they pay to be there, there is motivation for them not to retake a class,” Urban said. “Generally a lot of them don’t need as much direction, this class is very different, I try to do all of it so we don’t have homework, we do it in class, we do it together or we do it in groups.”

Many teachers say that a large problem with high school is the lack of motivation among the students. Urban strives for an enjoyable classroom experience with as much hands-on interaction as possible.

“We do as much hands-on [work as possible]. In integrated science, we’re going to go outside, we’re going to collect insects, we’re going to collect plants, we’re going to do zoology and botany. Just stuff to get them interested in something,” Urban said.

Urban realized she wanted to become a teacher when it hit her that she understood concepts better when she explained them to others. Although she had her “eureka” moment when she was a teacher’s assistant at WSU.

“My first time teaching at WSU, I had a student come up to me like a year after he was in my biology class off campus and he said, ‘I changed my major because of your class’,” Urban said.

During her time at NHS, Urban has felt welcomed and feels like all the teachers get along and help one another whenever needed, even though some may not be in the same department.

“I feel really welcomed,” Urban said. “I like how [fellow teachers] communicate with everybody. If I ask a question to someone in the English department they’re able to answer my question.”

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