Cambridge Public Schools Middle Grades Science Teacher Laurie Ferhani was recently recognized with the 2009 Curious Teacher Award by the Cambridge Science Festival. (www.cambridgesciencefestival.org)
Ms. Ferhani, who teaches at the Amigos School (www.cpsd.us/ami) was nominated by her peers and described as “an enthusiastic educator and learner whose passionate curiosity and ‘can do’ spirit is infectious”. Her colleagues also consider her an inspiration to all she works with.
Specifically, Ms. Ferhani was recognized for the work she’s done in developing interdisciplinary units around the history and geology of the Boston area, including her students’ creation of a wiki page with which to share student observations and work in and about local ecosystems the students have visited.
“These collaborations have produced projects that have not only deepened students’ understandings in science, but have also included experiences that students will likely remember for years to come.” CPS Science Coordinator Lisa Santy said.
Ms. Ferhani said she was apprehensive to receiving the award and recognition that comes with it.
“I don’t like getting awards. I have a personal aversion toward them,” she said. “I consider myself a work in progress, and I value the work of my peers. I see great things from them and it makes me feel uncomfortable for me to get an award over them. Nonetheless, I really appreciate the notion that my peers in the science department are happy with my work. It is an honor and in the end, I received the award with humility and appreciation. I actually didn’t realize how much the award meant to me until I saw the look of pride on my 11 year old son’s face. He was beaming and clapping very loudly. I had to look away for fear that I might tear up… that’s when I realized how honored I was.”
Ms. Ferhani said she loves teaching because she loves learning herself. “I love making a discovery about something that I had a question about. The students keep me on my toes with their questions about different perspectives of the subject matter. We get to learn about the modern science in the context of history, personal voices and current events. We also love to do the science, doing our own field work and make sense of our observations together.”
As a middle school teacher, Ms. Ferhani said she considers herself lucky to be a part of the Cambridge Public Schools. “We have the best professional development opportunities as CPS middle school science teachers,” she said. “Through this department I have learned from great people at MIT, Harvard Museum of Natural History, Museum of Science, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and from the New England Aquarium and Boston University’s Urban Ecology programs. We have helped construct physics equipment that we will be using and trained in teaching units at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.
“In Cambridge we also have the privilege of working with the Underground Railway Theater to do plays on topics ranging from Galileo to Darwin. We get to work with Science Club for Girls! Our students get free labs at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Museum of Science and MIT’s Edgerton Center. We do great lab experiments at Biogen-Idec each year! We have great equipment to help us teach and we have access to technology”