Kate Brendler, Middle School Science
"A big part of students' reaction to science has to do with the kinds of teachers they’ve had in the past. That was when I decided that I really wanted to be a teacher, and that the age I wanted to teach was middle school. I want to be that teacher that helps students love what they are learning."
Why did you want to become a teacher?
My first teaching job was at the Coast Guard Academy, teaching chemistry. I think what really turned me into a teacher was not just being there, but talking to the students about the fact that they either loved chemistry or they hated it, but they had to take it. I quickly realized that a big part of their reaction to science had to do with the kinds of teachers they’d had in the past. That was when I decided that I really wanted to be a teacher, and that the age I wanted to teach was middle school. I want to be that teacher that helps students love what they are learning.
What do you think works well about the Bryn Mawr Middle School science curriculum?
I think it is the realization that it’s not the content that drives what we teach, but rather the basic science skills and the love of learning science, and that the content is the vehicle that allows us to do that. We have the freedom to play with our content in a way that really makes it interesting for students. We can do a lot of hands-on activities, and we keep the focus on the skills.
You have been at Bryn Mawr for more than a decade. What has it been like watching girls grow through the Middle and Upper Schools and go out into the world – and, in some cases, come back as teachers?
It makes me smile. I love seeing students come back, or meeting them in different places. We just took the seventh grade to Genesee Valley, and one of my former students (Ally McGill ’09) was the lead facilitator for the girls. It really makes me feel proud to see our girls out in the world, because you know that they are going to succeed and make a difference.
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is really about teaching girls to make wise choices. Our curriculum has changed a great deal over the time that I’ve been here, but I feel that no matter what the curriculum, we can teach them how to make good choices about themselves, their environment and their relationships.