Practice What We Preach

Phillips Exeter Academy hosts conferences each summer to help teachers explore their subject areas a bit deeper. Our science teacher, Julia Carter, had the opportunity to attend the Biology Institute this summer with thanks to the generous support of the Stranahan Foundation. Her note of gratitude to the Foundation highlights the importance of this experience, and we are pleased to share it with you.

Dear Stranahan Foundation,

Thank you so much for this incredible opportunity and to learn and spend this valuable time with fellow science teachers. This Biology Institute is fantastic and I look forward to really unpacking what I’ve learned this week and applying it to my curriculum.

The two parts of this conference – classes and field trips – really complement each other and both have been truly incredible. I took the class Teaching to the Adolescent Mind with Jeremy Kovacs. I currently teach at Trident Academy in Charleston, SC. Trident Academy is a school specifically for students who learn differently, e.g. dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, and Asperger’s. The course Teaching to the Adolescent Mind has opened up how I view something as simple as the first day of class and how I read students’ actions – which may explain certain anxieties or apprehensions about the first day and what I could do differently to allay fears and anxieties. These strategies are applicable to all types of students, but it seems particularly important for Trident Academy’s population. The class has equipped me with tools to use in my class which will strengthen my teaching methodologies for Trident Academy.

The field trips are simply amazing. Not only is it fun to spend time with fellow teachers, but the trips themselves or exciting and unique. The trip to the Isle of Shoals Marine Lab on Appledore Island was amazing. Fortunately, living on the coast, I spent the boat ride out to Appledore Island thinking about similar trips I can take in Charleston. Appledore is certainly unique and fantastic in its own way, but part of the amazing factors the staff on Appledore and their passion for the island and everything on it that they study. I felt like a child in my excitement over learning what the island had to offer and exploring this amazing world. I look forward to finding a trip similar to this one at home.

All of the field trips were amazing, but the other one I want to highlight is the birding trip to Plum Island. Part of what I loved about the simplicity of this trip – finding areas where several different types of birds resided and identifying them by look and call. Some of these birds where unfamiliar to me, as I live several states south of here, but there were a lot of that I recognized as well. We had the fortune of seeing a Glossy Ibis and several things made this exciting: (1) novelty of never having seen one before; (2) the excitement of discovering a bird new to me and being able to observe it through binoculars and scope; (3) the excitement of our leaders of catching sight of these birds. The leaders were ecstatic and this was apparent in their actions and their delight in being able to teach us about this bird. I love birdwatching and this trip reminded me that when I’m passionate about what I teach, I simply have to share this passion with my students and they will get as excited as I did birding yesterday. I tell my students to never stop exploring.

Thanks to the scholarship and experience to Exeter I’ve been able to practice what I preach – which makes me excited all over again for the coming year. Thank you again for this amazing opportunity to be here. I couldn’t have come without your help.


Julia Carter

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