Outliers: Students in ACTION Newsletter
January 2017

Outliers: Students in ACTION  is a monthly publication during the academic year highlighting students and events in the Science and Math Education in ACTION Choose Ohio First grant program at BGSU. 
Reflections from the ACTION Director
by Dr. Daniel Brahier
As we begin 2017, I hope you had a restful  holiday season and that you are energized for all that   will occur this year!
The New Year will feature many changes and new opportunities for ACTION scholars.  For example, last month, we received exciting news that we have been fully funded for a grant proposal submitted to the Klein Development Fund for Residential Learning Communities.  In the proposal, ACTION requested funding for teaching our scholars how to best make use of the local zoo as a resource for teaching science and mathematics.  The grant will allow us to take all of the  members of Cohort 9 to the Toledo Zoo in this year's Summer Bridge program, as well as to offer an opportunity for dozens of our second, third, and fourth-year scholars to attend a day-long program at the zoo this fall.  We are looking forward to partnering with educators at the Toledo Zoo to provide this program for our students.
Also, in recent weeks, ACTION staff members have been meeting with university officials to plan for the transition of our facilities from the Mathematical Sciences Building to the renovated space in University Hall.  The move is scheduled to take place in August, and our new space will be shared with the Academic Investment in Mathematics and Science (AIMS) program.  The move will present us with a wonderful setting in which to collaborate with others and to continue to build the ACTION program.
Finally, January 15 is the deadline for incoming freshmen to apply for ACTION, so if you know of anyone who has been considering the program, please send them our way or provide us with names and we will contact them.  Also, the application link for rising sophomores (current freshmen) who would like to be considered for transferring into Cohort 8 this fall will be launched this month, with an application deadline of March 1.  Students can be enrolled at BGSU or transferring to BGSU from any other institution as long as they are Ohio residents.  We can accept up to 7 new students into Cohort 8.  Also, please encourage interested high school students, friends, and family members to follow us on Twitter (@action_bgsu).  This year again promises to be an exciting time for ACTION, as we look forward to serving our students and families in 2017!


Cohort 7 - Sophomore
AYA Chemistry and Physics

How did you spend your winter break?
It was really nice to spend time with my family and I got to see lots of relatives. I also babysat for three young boys most days during the break-of course I did a lot of science activities with the kids (as much as possible when the oldest is only 5 years old)!  The extra money from babysitting will help pay for my textbooks for spring semester.

What are some of the opportunities you have had through ACTION?  I  was elected to be a Student Advisory Board member this year and also volunteered to be on the newly founded Service Committee so I am excited about helping seek out additional opportunities for service for ACTION scholars - we have some great ideas so far!  I enjoy being at Preview Days to tell prospective students about ACTION and it's fun to help at the ACTION activity table at STEM in the Park each fall.  As a member of Dr. Haney's research group last year, it was exciting to have the chance to travel to Colorado with other ACTION scholars to present our research at the GLOBE conference.

What you led to pursue a career as a science teacher? 
In first grade I loved school and my teacher, Mrs. Burger, so much that I threw a fit when the chicken pox prevented me from attending school.  Ever since, I've wanted to be a teacher like Mrs. Burger.  I'm good at science and math and considered teaching both. However, I was most excited about science and my amazing chemistry and physics teacher helped me love these subjects even more.  Babysitting revealed I don't prefer young kids and my school placement last year confirmed my desire to get deeper in subject areas and do more extensive labs with older students. 

How have you changed in your first three semesters at BGSU? 
I  come from a rural town where most have similar ideas and beliefs. At college, I realized many of my ideas differed from those around me.  I have begun to discover who I am and what I believe. I feel more confident and independent. I'm glad I lived on campus for 2 years - and especially on the ACTION floor in Offenhauer - to be immersed in the college lifestyle.  As a future teacher, it is important that I have experience with a wide range of people.

One thing people would be surprised to know about you is...
I am into rock music...especially grunge music from the '90's! I like it loud with lots of drums. Head banging! People assume I'm a "country girl" and I used to be, but my brother introduced me to hard rock in high school.


Cohort 3  - May 2015 Graduate
AYA Mathematics

What have you been doing since graduation?   The summer after graduation, I commuted back and forth between my hometown of Stryker and Cleveland for job interviews.  After signing a contract at Margaretta in Castalia, Ohio, I began the adjustment of moving to a new place and settling into a small community similar to the one in which I grew up.  In addition to teaching, I also drive limos for a local chauffeur service.  On weekends I tend to travel and spend time with family and my amazing boyfriend, Chris.
How did your teaching job come about?   Prior to graduation, I received a job offer from a local school but it was not in the location that I wanted to be permanently.  After turning that job down, I went through more than 20 interviews before arriving at my current job just two weeks before school started.  I had agonized over the process and kicked myself multiple times for not taking the original job.  I applied for my current job on Saturday, received an interview offer Sunday afternoon, had a first interview Tuesday afternoon, completed a second interview Wednesday morning and received a job offer at the end of the interview.  I can honestly say that while it was tough, this position is perfect for me.
Last year, I taught Geometry, Geometry Foundations and Trig/Precalculus. As any first year teacher does, I struggled to catch my stride in a district that was totally different from where I completed my student teaching.  It took hours of experimentation and pulling from students' memories and experiences to find a groove that was beneficial to both me and the students. I struggled with mentorship in my first year and found that making connections outside of the small school was really helpful in terms of encouragement and sharing ideas in order to improve my teaching.  Since I survived my first year, the administration chose to add a single section of Math 8 to my schedule during my second year! Once again, it has taken time and effort to find what best addresses the needs of my specific students.  
Has your involvement in ACTION impacted your teaching?
First off, ACTION was the main reason why I got a special look from Margaretta.  My principal's wife had a student teacher that was in ACTION and she was so blown away by the work that this student completed that the principal knew the quality of teacher he was getting.  In addition, the final two-year Capstone project that I completed as a part of ACTION has helped me to continually keep an open mind and experiment to improve teaching practices.  One thing that I am currently working on is using a learning environment where students have access to sit on yoga balls.  As a result of providing this option I am seeing a huge change in student engagement and a better attitude in my classroom.  
What has been your favorite part about teaching so far?
Continuing to build rapport with my students has been one of the best parts of teaching.  I know the clich√© of teaching is that you are in it to impact lives.  I was still unsure if I wanted to teach long term but I knew that if I taught for a few years and chose not to continue that I would at least be able to say I tried and knew it wasn't for me.  My first year of teaching definitely did not make me want to continue and to this day I will never forget a few weeks into the second year hearing, "Miss Frank, I thought you were a horrible teacher and really mean from what the kids said last year but I realized that you were just the new teacher so everyone had to hate you last year."  I had a few breakthrough moments my first year but nothing that would convince me to make this a lifelong career.  Then "Year Two" happened.  This year I have an amazing group of kids who can tell that I care and respond with respect and care as well.  I have picked up extracurricular activities and continue to build rapport with all of my students including the ones that other teachers dislike.  It is those students who will buy into your classroom if you continue to respect and encourage them.  The culminating highlight of teaching so far came just before Christmas.  I lost my grandpa on December 14 and choose to go back to school on December 15 before the funeral.  My students knew why I missed school the day before and knew it would be a tough day for me.  They were on extra good behavior (in all 7 classes that I teach).  A group of 10 students took the time the day before to "booby-trap" my room with jokes in every area that they knew I used throughout the day.  Every time I would feel like I wanted to cry and not be at school I couldn't help but smile as I found those jokes and knew that they were excited to have me there.
Anything else you want to share?   A few words of encouragement to remember during your first year of teaching:  1) for every bad day, there will be a good day to come later, 2) stick with it because the second year is SOOOOO much easier, and 3) don't spend hours creating your own resources (unless you have to) - the "Teachers Pay Teachers" website will save you hours and even if you spend a buck or two the peace of mind is definitely worth it.  It is a great time-saver and many of the resources are tried and true instead of experimentation.  

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Cohort 9 Applicants
A number of prospective scholars stopped by our ACTION display table during the BGSU Preview Day in early December. Many current scholars volunteered to help by sharing about their experiences in ACTION. 
During Preview Day, Liz Baker and Karen Izor give an overview to a high school senior 

With a little over a week until the deadline for incoming freshmen (January 15) we look forward to seeing new applications in our inbox each day.  All complete applications received by the deadline will be reviewed and processed quickly so that top candidates can be notified in a timely manner. 

Holiday Gathering 
We love spending time together as an ACTION family. And, one of the best times to be with family is when celebrating the holidays.
The ACTION Social Committee deserves high praise for all their effort to plan a successful holiday gathering on December 9. Over 90 of our 112 scholars joined the celebration. Instead of the usual gift exchange, scholars were encouraged to bring a canned good or a new toy as a donation to a local charity.  The ACTION Holiday Olympics planned by the Activity Sub-Committee was a big hit with good food and lots of fun being had by all.  

Allie Clayton and Megan Simon help prepare the food

Josh, Josie, Makenna, McKenna, Stephanie and Dani from Cohort 8 enjoy the photo booth

Karen, Mackenzie, Marco and Harrison arrive early to set up for the evening's activities

Chris Irick plays "Pin the Heart on the Grinch"  as part of the Olympics

A festive group of Cohort 7 scholars

Jordan Truitt and Harrison Brunner give instructions for the ACTION Holiday Olympics

Dr. B poses with some scholars from Cohort 8 attending their first ACTION Holiday Gathering

Kim Wheatley and Courtney Stanton help Cindy clean up

Cohort 5 seniors enjoy their last Holiday Gathering

Service Committee
ACTION scholars volunteer and give back to the campus and community in countless ways and we are proud of their involvement.  Some serve as part of a BGSU or community organization, while others volunteer completely on their own. Most scholars seem to be aware of the importance of volunteering and as a result, ACTION has created a Service Committee tasked with the goal of targeting several volunteer opportunities for spring semester. This committee consists of four Student Advisory Board members who are passionate about service and who want to spearhead specific opportunities we can commit to as an ACTION family.  The committee held their first meeting in December and they are off to a good start in identifying opportunities for the upcoming semester. 
Ethan Peters, Ann Howard, Bonnie Altstaetter and Nicole Wainscott make a great team