My name is Rachelle Pannullo, and I have been teaching 8th-grade science for five years, but I never intended to teach middle school or even teach at all. I was part of a generation that experienced the “CSI Effect,” and I fully expected to go to college and become a Crime Lab Technician. I even applied and got accepted to the University of New Haven but ended up going to SUNY Albany for a Biology degree.
Before I even started classes there, I had a work-study job at the Disability Resource Center. By the start of the next school year, they had promoted me from work-study to student assistant, and I started interacting with a lot of our students as more of a peer mentor. I still loved science and did a short stint as a lab assistant on a state-wide entomology study, but I realized I didn’t want to do lab work. I started looking into other careers that involved biology-- specifically genetics and found Genetic Engineering. I liked that it still had a fair amount of science, but I would be speaking to people about it, not just sending emails about lab reports.
When finding out that the Genetic Engineering program wasn’t for me, I started to think about the parts of the field I liked to see if there was another career path. I figured out that I liked the teaching element of the profession. Taking a lot of technical genetic facts, making it more accessible to others, and being able to answer questions. That’s when I looked into teaching programs. I got accepted into a few and went to SUNY Stony Brook. After graduation, I was hired at a Charter School in Georgia and taught 6th grade for a few months. Then the following year, they moved me up to 8th grade. And now, even though I have moved to a different school and even a different state, I still accidentally ended up back in 8th-grade science after being initially hired for 7th-grade.
Although it isn’t the career I expected to have and not even the type of science I thought I would teach, I enjoy many of the challenges. I mainly teach Physics and Geology, two of the science subjects I never really focused on in school. I like these subjects, though, because I enjoy learning new things and being able to share them with my students. Because I am sometimes learning along with them, it can be fun to discuss what we’ve learned and find ways to make the information make more sense. For example, before I taught in Georgia, I had never learned anything about energy waves. I knew about sound waves but not the science behind them, so it has been great to find ways to make such an abstract concept easier to learn-- not just for myself but also for my students.
There are definitely things that are not ideal in the teaching profession, but I try to focus on what I do enjoy. I like that I get to learn something new. I like that I get to work with people every day. I like that each day and every class is just a little bit different. I like that I can find creative ways to solve problems. These are the things that keep me going back into my classroom. It was a weird path to teaching, but my past experiences gave me a lot of ‘tools in my teacher toolbox,’ as we like to all say.
Was this article helpful?
Thank you for your feedback
Sorry! We couldn't be helpful
Thank you for your feedback
We appreciate your effort and will try to fix the article