Saguaro High School STEM teachers Derek Nietz
(back left), Heather Moll (back center), Camilo Tafur (back right),
Kevin Walz (front left) and Susan Lindberg (front right) reunite
with Sabercats Class of 2005 graduate and TGen post-doc Elizabeth
Hutchins (front center) during the Excellence in Bioscience Teacher
Five math and science teachers from
Saguaro High School went back-to-school this summer at TGen. They
spent three days in hands-on, immersive training as part of our
Excellence in Bioscience Teacher Initiative, a pilot project funded
by the Scottsdale Unified School District Foundation.
The pilot was created with the
vision of elevating and investing in individual teachers, which
will benefit an exponential number of individual students over
time. One of those students, Elizabeth Hutchins, graduated from
Saguaro in 2005 and now works at TGen as a post-doctoral fellow
researching neurological disorders.
Her Science Olympiad coach, Susan
Lindberg, who teaches Biotechnology and Chemistry, was selected to
attend the Bioscience Teacher Initiative, along with her math
teacher, Kevin Walz, a Statistics and Advanced Placement Calculus
"It was fun for me to see some of
the teachers from my high school because they were influential in
my being interested in science," Dr. Hutchins explained. "Science
Olympiad was a big part of that because you got to apply things you
learned in the classroom. That was one of the first opportunities I
had to see science in action."
The teachers toured the Phoenix
Biomedical Campus, worked one-on-one with TGen mentors, learned
about the technology used in TGen labs and spent time with Helios
Scholars interns to gather student perspectives.
"I've enjoyed seeing the many
different fields, many different ideas and many different skills
that are used on a daily basis," explained department chair Heather
Moll, who teaches Chemistry and Earth Science. "Writing and reading
- those are skills that kids don't think are important in science -
and they are truly important here."
From ethics to bioinformatics to
clinical trials, the teachers experienced a 360-degree view of the
latest in scientific thought and collaboration. More than 20 TGen
faculty and staff members contributed their time and expertise to
the training sessions and made a lasting impact on their
"What's consistent among everyone at
TGen from interns to the highest-level is their generosity with
their time and how much of themselves they're willing to give,"
said Camilo Tafur, an Advance Placement Biology, Honors Biology and
Chemistry teacher. "That will be something I'll tell the students
when they ask what they need to do to be someone who could work at