From Substitute to Science Lab, Ann Cameron Remembers 35 Years

by Ann Cameron

On May 25, when I turn in my keys, nametag and teaching materials, I will be leaving behind some of the best memories, friends and experiences I have ever had. I am not saying every day has been perfect or that there weren’t some days when I would have rather done something else, but there was never a day when I didn’t laugh about something or have an experience with a student that was rewarding.

People are congratulating me for my upcoming retirement. I am thinking, “I am getting old and need to leave before they are ready for me to go!” I also want to enjoy some new opportunities that are luring me, like not setting an alarm clock for 5:45 a.m. on school days.

In 1985, I began my career as a CMDS substitute teacher, and before the year was over, I had been hired to teach 4th grade with Brenda Sippel. My classroom was in what is now the front part of the art room. There were no closets, but lots of windows to watch what was going on around us.

In 1997, we moved into the Wilson Ross Building. At that time, under the leadership of David Fox, we created the space for a true Science Lab on the 3rd floor of the Grant Building. Little did I imagine then that I would end up being the Science Lab teacher a few years later.

I continued to teach 4th grade and 3rd grade with Carolyn Pegram, Jenny Wilford and Ruth Stevens, and they were all my FAVORITE teaching partners.

A few years ago CMDS began our STEAM Initiative focusing on science, technology, engineering, art and math, and I moved back to the Science Lab as part of the STEAM team. We are still in the process of creating this amazing hands-on multi- dimensional program that is constantly being morphed into something bigger than any one of us, It’s an amazing opportunity to do those “wouldn’t it be fun if…” projects.

Being part of the STEAM team has given us all the opportunity to do experiments and activities with the children in laboratory settings that provide for more space and creativity than the regular classroom setting allows. Students in SK through 4th grade have: studied Arctic animals and touched their pelts, made slime, built race car tracks, studied forces and Newtonian science, dissected squid and cow eyes, decomposed matter, gone on nature hikes, shot rockets off the 3rd floor balcony, measured density, made edible bones and blood, learned to determine how to find north with a bar magnet, learned why a bike helmet helps prevent concussions, and made ice cream! Ask your child what they have done in science. They may not remember the vocabulary, but they understand the scientific principles.

Being a 4th grade, 3rd grade or STEAM team member has been the delight of my life for almost 35 years, and it is with much anticipation and sadness that I am retiring.

Several years ago we were asked to add a Bible verse to our teacher biography. I chose 1 Peter 5: 2-3: “Just as shepherds watch over their sheep, you must watch over everyone God has placed in your care. Do it willingly in order to please God, and not simply because you think you must. Let it be something you want to do, instead of something you do merely to make money. Don’t be bossy to those people who are in your care, but set an example for them.”

I hope that as I leave CMDS that I have been able to accomplish the standards set out in this passage.


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