K-12 Teacher-Partner Profile

Laura Ruiz

College/University: California State University, Los Angeles
Project Title: IMPACT LA: Improving Minority Partnerships and Access through CISE-related Teaching
Partner School: Marc and Eva Stern Math and Science School, Los Angeles, CA
Degree: B.A., M.S., Biology & Environmental Studies, UC Santa Cruz, Forest Science, Yale University
Years Teaching: 5
Graduate Fellow Partner(s): Danielle Trathen

How will you continue to integrate an aspect of GK-12 and your partnership with graduate students into your teaching, philosophy, etc.?

In AP Biology students are challenged with a rigorous curriculum, which offers many opportunities to bring in examples of applications of science topics that are discussed in the text. Through this partnership the students are introduced to many methods where Danielle uses concepts in Biology to produce interesting and valuable research. As a teacher, I frequently look for ways to relate the science concepts to student lives, however in addition to relating things to student lives, now they can envision using these concepts and additional technologies in the laboratory as researchers. My goal as a science teacher is to open a window into the foundations of biology for those students who show an interest in the field. Through the partnership we’ve shown them examples of what it would be like to be a student to research a biology related field.

How has the GK-12 experience changed you, and how has your participation changed the GK-12 project?

Through the partnership, I’ve been able to enhance the rigor of the AP Biology curriculum for our students. Typically students in the inner city of Los Angeles are not challenged to complete their A-G requirements much less go beyond. In our classroom we push students to read, understand, listen and ask questions about biology that they might never have the opportunity to do. Before the program I was hesitant about pushing them to work at a higher level, but after working with a researcher I am more encouraged to get them to understand that the topics we explore are relevant to their futures as college students. Currently I am the only teacher of color at my school and I know it is important to encourage my students of color to pursue this career, as a participant of this program I serve as both a advocate for my students to encourage recruitment of them, and as a mentor of color in the sciences for fellows in the program.