Tell us about your work / research. What kinds of things do you do?
I am the direct supervisor of nine science and engineering 9-12 teachers at Windham High School and six middle school teachers at Windham Middle School. I am the 6-12 Director of the Science and Engineering department for the Windham NH School District. My role is to provide leadership for the department regarding curriculum, hiring, evaluation and community outreach. Windham is community full of STEM employees working in Computer Science, Biotechnology and the Defense industries. As such, our students take many science courses, with nearly 70% of all students taking Physics before graduation.
What sparked your initial interest in your career?
I began studying Biology because I was very interested in animals and nature shows. Wild Kingdom and Jacques Cousteau were my favorite shows. During college, I realized I was not cut out for working in a lab and so pursued teaching. I love when I can bring a student to the moment when they begin considering the complexity of life and see the world around them with "new eyes" and appreciate the beauty and wonder of nature.
Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?
I had a wonderful Chemistry teacher, Mr. Shores, in high school that spoke so reverently about nature and the order revealed in the periodic table that I was inspired to explore more science courses. He and a Biology professor, Dr. Dent, in my undergraduate work brought me right back in touch to the "young boy" watching the Adventures of Jacques Cousteau, excited about discovering new things and learning more about all living things.
What element of your work / study do you think is the most fascinating?
The most fascinating thing about my work is designing a learning experience tha will create a sense of wonder and curiosity in a student. Those moments feel magical as I invite the student to a new appreciation of the beauty of life around them.
What other jobs led you to your current career?
Other than teaching in a variety of grade levels, I have worked as a science outreach educator for the University of Massachusetts and the University of New Hampshire through their Cooperative Extension work, particularly in the 4-H program. This work allowed me to see the full range of educational opportunities that can engage a student in STEM explorations.
What are your degrees and certifications?
Bachelor of Arts in Biology - Gordon College, Wenham, MA 1984
Masters in School Administration - Salem State University, Salem, MA 1999
Educational Specialist - University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 2012
What are your hobbies?
I have many hobbies and interests, most of which involve being outside. I have a large garden in which I grow many summer vegetables, but tomatoes are my favorite. My girls and I (4 daughters, 1 wife) also raise chickens and Guinea Hens (goats and sheep in the recent past). In addition, I like to fish.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career like yours?
If you want to get into science education, take courses in a wide range of sciences, developing a solid foundation of scientific knowledge and process. While studying the content, take some time to practice communicating what you know in any number of educational settings. Volunteer to teach in afterschool programs, 4-H clubs, youth groups or at camps. Watch TED talks and learn the best way to help someone else learn. Reflect on those teachers who motivated you and learn from those experiences.
How did you get involved in the Nautilus Exploration Program? How did you get on the ship?
I was working with University of New Hampshire faculty to plan a 6th grade field trip experience in the spring. During the planning meeting, Tara Johnson from Ocean Engineering asked if any of the teachers were interested in applying to the Nautilus Exploration Program. They all had commitments and so Tara turned to me and I said "Yes".
Michael participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: