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Career Profiles

Patricia Weisse

Earth Science Teacher

Patricia Weisse decided to major in geology during her junior year at Lehigh University. She was looking for practical applications of knowledge learned in the pure sciences and found the field of geology to be full of applied physical and chemistry. The opportunity to study science in an outdoor setting was also very attractive to her. After receiving her B.S. degree, she went to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where she studied paleomagnetism and magnetic mineralogy. After receiving her M.S. degree, she taught courses in paleomagnetism and introductory physical geology for several years at Wellesley College. After moving to Syracuse, New York, she took graduate level courses in geology and education at Syracuse University.

Patty is now a secondary school science teacher. She has taught both high school physics and earth science in upstate New York. Teaching involves more than just passing knowledge on to students and Patty tries to show students how they can apply that knowledge. This sometimes means science classes have to be held in out of the ordinary places. Her physics classes have travelled to local amusement parts to study amusement park physics. Patty believes students respond positively to high expectations. Her favorite part of teaching is working with students. She learns a lot from them about science teaching and finds their perspective on science and scientific literacy refreshing.

To continue to develop professionally, Patty attends workshops and conferences and takes courses at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She recently attended a short course on teaching critical thinking skills offered at a Geological Society of America meeting. She would like to see more communication between the geological community and secondary school earth science teachers.

Balancing family life and a career is a great personal and professional challenge to Patty. There is not enough day care available, nor are there enough opportunities for professional people to mesh family and work, such as part-time or flexible time opportunities at work. This is perhaps the main reason she is currently in secondary education, so that she can be with her children, particularly in the summer. Seeing many other women like herself caught up in the "childcare crisis" sparked Patty to become involved with the day care program in her community. As current chairperson of that Board, she spends time writing grants and trying to raise funds in an attempt to finance the expansion of the day care program.