Susan Whitehead has been teaching at Guthrie Upper Elementary School (GUES) for three years. She teaches sixth grade science and feels it’s the best thing she’s ever done.
“I thought I was going to be a school counselor as my degree is in psychology,” explained Whitehead. “The more I talked to teachers the more I realized that school counseling was only a part of what I wanted to do. I really wanted to be in the classroom teaching, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”
GUES principal, Susan Davison offered her a job as a Social Studies and a Science teacher. While she felt confident teaching Social Studies she was less confident about teaching Science. She has found, however, the best way to teach Science is to participate in as much professional development as possible as well as learning right along with the kids.
“I enjoy every bit of it. I’ve never been more tired when I leave or have had to plan as hard as I do now,” shared Whitehead.
Whitehead believes in continuing education as a teacher which is why she applied for the American Meteorological Society Teacher Travel Grant. She was one of only seven teachers nationwide who received it. The grant provides full travel support to attend the meeting which is in Boston, Massachusetts. This is the Centennial Celebration.
While in Boston Whitehead will have opportunity to present at Weatherfest. Teachers will present models they have built to test different weather-related theories. Whitehead submitted a lesson plan entitled Multiple Lines of Defense Strategy which uses models to teach students science. She will present a model which features 11 lines or types of barriers. Using it in her classroom students will be given time to build barriers on the model and once complete, the model will be tipped slightly and blue marbles (representing water) will be poured toward their “lines of defense.” Students will witness the force of hurricane winds and tidal surge to see if their barriers can withstand the high winds and water.
“When you go to something like this (meeting) you learn the story behind it. Sixth graders really want to know the stories behind things. I try to teach more about themes versus just teaching formula. Kids love to have hands on experiences,” said Whitehead.
Whitehead feels planning is the most important thing to do as a teacher. She also feels teaching is the most rewarding thing she can do.
Whitehead stated, “I love teaching at GUES. I lived in Guthrie until I was five. I love where I am, and I love the kids.”