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BIOS

Bernice O'Brien

2013 Fellow

As an only child growing up on a mini-farm in the Shenandoah Valley, Bernice spent a lot of time exploring the great outdoors. She quickly realized that science was her favorite subject. By the time she reached high school, she had decided on a career in environmental science. Bernice began to notice her love for teaching while working as a counselor at an outdoor summer camp. During her senior year in high school, she helped to start a teaching assistant/mentoring program for a freshman foundations English class—an effort which helped to solidify her interest in teaching.

Bernice is currently studying secondary earth science in a five year Bachelor of Arts/Master of Teaching program at the University of Virginia’s (UVA) Curry School of Education, and is an active member of the campus community. Her volunteer efforts have largely focused on her two passions: food and service. As an avid gardener, she is an advocate for urban agriculture and community gardens. Most notably, Bernice has advocated for sustainable dining practices at UVA through composting and has contributed to the completion of a food justice audit for her community.

In addition to her community organizing efforts, Bernice has participated in various education-based activities. She was selected by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to intern at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory. While working at the Community Environmental Health Laboratory, she was given the chance to participate in authentic research and shape citizen science efforts. Additionally, Bernice was involved in an effort to design and implement a research methods class for ninth grade students at a new health and medical sciences high school academy. With an emphasis on hands-on inquiry, students were paired with a partner to study an assigned organism for the entire semester. She will leverage the knowledge gained from this experience as she prepares to travel to Northern Ireland in the fall of 2013 to student teach science to grammar school students in underserved areas.

Following graduation, she would like to teach earth science and environmental science on the west coast or in New England, before returning to her home state of Virginia. As a teacher, Bernice hopes to “open students’ eyes to the natural wonders that surround them daily and reconnect them to the processes that sustain life.”

 

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Students achieve when supported by a creative and diverse learning environment, so do teachers. Structured reflection and stipends for professional development will help me grow within my first years of teaching, as I create and refine my own teaching philosophy

Bernice O'Brien
2013 Fellow