With words like mitosis, telaphase, and cytokinesis the norm, it's easy to understand why students consider Melissa Rettig's AP biology class their toughest. Student Brett Blaylock says "we're pushing ourselves, we're getting ourselves ready for the challenge of college. We're all in here to try."
Rettig feeds on the motivation her students have to succeed and excel above the norm. "I structure the expectations high. I provide the kids with opportunities and I give them the tools to get there."
Rettig starts with small steps, giving students labs and assignments that build confidence. That encourages students to learn more. "These kids are coming in and doing labs after school and spending their free time learning biology, getting in the lab and getting their hands dirty, writing lab reports, and learning about the inquiry process."
Rettig's class recently took an interest in clean water and conservation... even forming a Marine Biology Club. Before Spring Break, she took them to the coast to perform field experiments. Student Desiree Clark went on the trip. She says "it really kinds of open your eyes to things normal people wouldn't see. You try to put all these crazy reactions that go on in your body together and get to see how being interact and can actually explain it."
On this day, Rettig's class will complete a mini-poster presentation based on a recent lab, it's an assignment a typical student would only venture to complete for a science fair.
All the hard work pays off. Rettig says testing data shows her students far exceed the state average, and actually learn at an accelerated rate. "Just to hear her say thank you... it was enough to make me proud to be a teacher."
We still have one more teacher to spotlight this school year. But the nomination process is now closed.
Stay tuned to see if your teacher makes the list of finalists for our Golden Apple Teacher of the Year.