Happy Birthday, Biocore! I signed up for Biocore on kind of on a whim, I guess, as teenagers sometimes do. I always planned to be a high school science teacher (I am!), so I constantly found myself wondering what I was doing surrounded by all these hot shot pre-med students! I’ve come to realize that this feeling of ‘am I really supposed to be here?’ is persistent for nearly all students at every stage of education, and that feeling certainly has helped shape my own teaching.
I remember that Biocore was really hard! I did learn a lot, thanks especially to a few good friends I made who helped me out all the time. Looking back, I guess this is my 20th anniversary. I think the Biocore graduation ceremony was more significant than my real graduation a year later…’What?! I actually made it!’
I certainly learned some life lessons — impossible things are learnable when you give them enough time; ask for help; getting an ‘A’ is really hard but getting a ‘B’ is not too hard (this may not have been the intended lesson but it has served me well in finding balance in life). I am sure these have helped form my own teaching philosophy — essentially, be good to each other and it’s OK if you’re struggling because you’re not the only one.
After finishing at UW, I spent a year in the secondary science education program at UW-Milwaukee, where I met my wife Liz. We now live in Minneapolis with our two boys, right across the street from Biology Professor Marcie Myers, who would have been my Biocore instructor…except that by junior year I’d realized I didn’t really have to take all the labs! At the time I considered that ‘being efficient’ (another life lesson, I suppose). I am now in my 17th year of urban public education, five years Milwaukee High School of the Arts and 12 at St. Paul Central, where I hope to remain for my career.
Well, this turned out longer than expected (my students would not be surprised). I want to say ‘thank you’ to the teachers and organizers of Biocore, I am sure it is not an easy task to maintain a program like that. I remember Wayne Becker being especially cool, launching Tootsie Rolls into the audience to teach us about glucose (I think?). And to the current teachers, please know that the disengaged teenager kicking his way through your class this spring may just turn out OK after all!