Staff Spotlight - Naomi Pierce
Every Friday we feature a member of our staff in the Staff Spotlight! This week, we spoke to Science teacher Naomi Pierce about her teaching career.
Why did you begin teaching?
I always wanted to be a primary school teacher. My mom is a primary school teacher, and so during school holidays we would always be in a classroom as she was prepping things. Then I went into 5th Year and did work experience in a primary school, and that’s when I realized that working with little kids wasn’t for me! I still loved the teaching aspect of it, though. I did Biology, Chemistry and even Home Ec in my Leaving Cert and loved them, so I went ahead and did my degree in General Science and went on to teach.
What do you enjoy most about teaching science?
I’ve always found science so fascinating. I always remember my Biology teacher, and she really drilled things into us and related it to everyday things. It’s not just about learning things off either, you can question things. I love the enquiry aspect of it and that always sparked an interest for me. Then when you go to teach, you can bring in the everyday as well because it’s so relatable and I really love that.
You’re teaching Agricultural Science this year as a new course - how is that going?
When I realized I was teaching Agricultural Science this year I was delighted because I grew up on a farm, and when people hear Ag Science they think “Oh, the farmers” whereas it’s actually so much more than that. With the new course they’ve made it very up to date and the project has a current theme now, and this year’s theme is sustainability. The girls often just think of the animals when they think of agriculture, but it’s really important that they see where their food is coming from and link it back into the work that goes into it. Hopefully now the girls will get more into the agricultural sector as well, because there are so many job opportunities as well. Ag science can open doors to animal nutrition, or veterinary science.
It’s been a bit of a challenge teaching a new course during Covid-19, like not knowing exactly what the questions may be like, but the project side of things has really improved. The biggest challenge right now is that the girls need to grow their own crops or do an investigation, which was difficult while the girls were out of school. The growing season is now potentially over, and the projects are due in April, so there’s definitely challenges there but I’m confident we’ll overcome them.
How have you adapted your teaching for Covid-19?
I would always have classified myself as being prepared, but this year is preparation x100! Before you’d print off things in the morning for a class. This year I’m trying to go paperless as much as possible, which I do think is really positive. We have so much technology in the school, and this has been the push we needed to move in the right direction. The resources that I would have made before, like little packs, can’t really be used any more, so we’re adapting our resources now to a digital space or finding apps that serve the same purpose. I think the girls find it easier as well, as they can organize their notes better when everything is digital rather than carrying around big folders.
Why did you choose to teach at Alex?
I always knew I wanted to teach a bit further from home in Wicklow (I’d done my placement in the school I went to), and I’d heard previously about the standard of teaching in the school. I initially thought I’d do a year or two in Alex and then go somewhere closer to home, but I just loved it here. The Science Department is fabulous and we get on so well, and the facilities are excellent. The whole Alex environment is lovely that it’s been harder to leave year after year!
What has been the highlight of your teaching career so far?
I suppose for me, now that I’m in my fourth year of teaching here, it’s a highlight to be able to see the girls come up through the school. I’m a TY tutor, and I’ve taught many of the TYs since their 1st Year. Even with the 6th Years, I’ve brought them all the way through the course and the Senior Cycle. When you get that email from a student that says “I got my H1!” or “I got my first choice course!” and really see them progress, that’s a big highlight for me.