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Meet the Fellows 2016: Rachelle Travis

By Heather Flanagan
April 22, 2016

The BOP-CCERS Fellowship at Pace University is a two-year professional development and training program designed to give teachers the knowledge and tools to engage their students in hands-on restoration science in New York Harbor.  This is our second year of the program, and the first year in which we have two cohorts overlapping. The program is structured so that second year fellows serve as mentors to the first.  

The first cohort of 17 middle school math and science teachers, who began in February 2015, are now finishing up their implementation year, during which they have taught a spiraling BOP curriculum and have taken their students on at least four monitoring expeditions. The second cohort of 24 teachers from 14 schools are currently in their foundations semester, in which they learn from guest experts and receive four days of hands-on field training from staff scientists. 

Last fall we featured some BOP-CCERS Cohort One teachers and now it’s Cohort Two teachers’ turn to shine!  Join us this month as we get to know more of the NYC DOE middle school teachers who are bringing hands-on restoration science to classrooms from the Bronx to Brooklyn. Next up: Rachelle Travis of Dr. Susan S. McKinney Secondary School of the Arts (M.S. 265) in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

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Rachelle, right, with BOP curriculum specialist Ann Fraioli during a December class trip to Rachelle’s Oyster Restoration Station (ORS) at Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Here, the two have just lifted the ORS out of the water so they could begin setting it up for Rachelle’s students.

Tell us about…

…your school!

“I teach at M.S. 265 Dr. Susan S. McKinney Secondary School of the Arts. As our name states, we are a performing and visual arts school. We are located in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

I am participating in the BOP Fellowship with Judith Edwards, our 6th and 7th grade Math Teacher. When we take our students out to the restoration station, we are always accompanied by our ELA teacher, Raquel Dueñas, making this a true interdisciplinary experience for our students. As a native New Yorker who grew up in the “concrete jungle” I’m blessed to have Judith and Raquel working with me on BOP, since both of them have a strong background in environmental science. We’re hoping that BOP can become a strong staple of this year’s STEM Fair.”

…your students!

“I teach 6th and 7th grade science. My 6th graders get really excited when we start to talk about oysters! And my 7th graders are really jealous.”

…yourself!

“I have an undergraduate degree in Biology and Education from Brooklyn College. I’m just about done with my MAT in Adolescence Science Education, also from Brooklyn College! My thesis is about the process I went through as a first year teacher, learning over time to set small, manageable goals so I wasn’t constantly feeling overwhelmed and like a failure.

One of my goals became to get my students involved in a Citizen Science project, since that was the best way to get my urban NYC students to experience true field science. I went looking for projects, and came upon BOP after lots of searching. I was immediately excited about the idea, since I only get to the Biology portion of my 6th and 7th grade science curriculum at the end of the school year. This was an excuse to teach some biology all year round 🙂

My school is located right near the Brooklyn Navy Yard so I thought it was a perfect opportunity. It took over a year, but by October 2015 my students finally made their first trip to our ORS, located at Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.”

What is the nearest body of water to your school?  Where is your restoration station?

“Our current restoration station is located at Pier 5 of Brooklyn Bridge Park. If only we could get into the Navy Yard with our students…”

What’s something you’re proud of in your teaching, your school, or your students?

“Judith and I just participated in the DOE Integrated STEM Institute for Middle School teachers. We created a unified lesson on balancing algebraic expressions and chemical equations. It was a lot of work and still needs some polishing, but we’re proud of what we’ve done so far.

I think that we now have a much better idea of what STEM Integration truly means for us and our students, and plan to utilize our new skills within the context of BOP.”

We’re so glad to have Rachelle and all the other fellows aboard!  Click here to get to know the rest of Cohort Two.

Interested in reading more about BOP-CCERS and how we’re bringing hands-on restoration science to classrooms all over the city?  Sign up for our newsletter and click here to read all BOP-CCERS posts!