Catherine Neville, a student at Juniata College, has been student teaching at Huntingdon Area High School (HAHS) in Paul Elder’s Biology classroom for the fall semester.
Neville is from Hull, Massachusetts, a small seaside town on the south shore of Massachusetts. She is a fifth-year student at Juniata College, as she decided to go into education during her sophomore year. Although this delayed her opportunity to graduate in four years, she decided to take an extra semester, allowing her to study abroad in New Zealand. Neville is also the president and founder of Campus Girl Scouts and the leader of a Daisy troop in Huntingdon. She used to be a part of other clubs, but student teaching takes up a lot of her time. She used to be an educator at the New England Aquarium in Boston and stated that she can probably identify around 100 species of fish/aquatic animals and watched an anaconda, Ana, give birth to 18 babies, although only two survived.
When asked when she realized she wanted to become a biology teacher, Neville stated, “I realized in one of my biology classes during my sophomore year of college that I wanted to become a biology teacher. (Kathleen) Jones, a professor of education at Juniata College, came to our biology class to talk about STEM education and it piqued my interest. I was having a lot of trouble figuring out my career path since I knew I did not want to be a doctor, vet, nurse, or researcher. So after that class, I went to Dr. Jones and she suggested I start by taking one education class. I’ve known ever since that first class”.
HAHS is a much different environment from what she experienced in high school since she attended a private, all-girls college prep school. Her graduating class had 18 girls in it, so being in a larger high school is a very new experience for her. Neville stated, “It has been a very educational experience! My favorite part has been creating connections with my students. It is difficult since a lot of high school students do not want to be in school, but I have worked hard to talk to and get to know my students. I hope they realize that I care about them and want to help them succeed, even if my class is difficult.”
Elder, Miss Neville’s cooperating teacher, stated, “Miss Neville is a hard worker, tries hard to build a rapport with her students, and brings a different perspective to the class.” Neville also said that her biggest struggle so far has been learning how to teach the material in a way that is understood by all of her students. It is a challenge for her to figure out how to teach something in a way that makes sense to other people and spends hours working on creating a lesson for a single 50-minute class period.
One student stated, “I love having Miss Neville as my biology student teacher. She is energetic and makes learning the new material fun. She gets every student engaged in her lessons and gives relatable, real-world examples that correspond to what we are learning.”
Another student said, “I learn effectively with Neville’s style of teaching. She makes me feel comfortable when asking questions and explains things in-depth, yet it is easy to understand”. HAHS is glad to have Neville in the biology classroom and hopes to prepare her for her future as a high school biology teacher in Massachusetts.