Marissa Mares received her Bachelor of Science in Earth System Science, awarded with a concentration in Geosciences Education with Secondary Teaching and a Minor in Educational Studies, in June 2016. She currently is teaching 7th and 8th grade science at Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) in Santa Ana. Marissa shares her thoughts about her educational journey.
I didn’t feel like I knew exactly what I wanted to do after high school during college but chose to explore nursing initially as I knew that I loved helping people, building relationships, and science. After completing an internship at the UCI Medical Center, I came to realize nursing wasn’t quite the environment I needed. I took an introductory education course at UCI where I observed a 5th grade class in Tustin during the quarter. It was soon after my first day in that 5th grade class that I knew education was where I needed to be. Specifically, this moment came when helping a student to better understand dividing fractions. I was working with him one-on-one and after some time working together he was finally able to solve a problem on his own and explain it back to me. He was filled with joy and said “I feel like superman!”. That’s when I was able to recognize that I belonged in the classroom, striving to help students feel this same joy when coming to understand the world around them.
While at UCI, I completed my undergraduate degree in Earth System Science and earned my single subject teaching credential in Biology and Earth Science. I had the pleasure of spending time in a 5th grade classroom, 6th grade Earth Science classroom, 9th grade Environmental Science classroom, and 8th grade Physical Science Classroom. Through these experiences, my love for education grew as I learned what it meant to build relationships in a classroom and to encourage students’ curiosity of science. Starting off as a student teacher, my favorite part of teaching was the student interactions. I loved being able to have a light-hearted banter with my students and found myself being amused day by day by the hilarious personalities that were held in my classroom.
While I still love the rapport I have with my students, I have recently found another aspect of education that I love, which is curriculum design. I am currently a 7th and 8th grade science teacher at the Orange County School of the Arts. I, along with my other 7th grade science colleagues, have spent the past year building integrated Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) curriculum using the California Framework as our guide. In addition to the new curriculum we are diligently writing, we also have decided to make the shift from a weighted grading policy to a standards-based grading policy with the NGSS Performance Expectations as our standards. Through this process I have found my passion for writing curriculum that is inquiry driven and building instruction/classroom structure that strives for student mastery of the content through a universal classroom design of supports. While it’s been a tough switch with many obstacles to think and work through, I feel strongly about my curriculum and grading policies as I continue to refine my classroom to be based in real world phenomena. This upcoming year we will be fine-tuning our 7th grade curriculum while also rolling out our 8th grade integrated NGSS curriculum.
I am still in my early years of teaching and do not see myself leaving the classroom anytime soon! I’ve found so many aspects of teaching that I absolutely love so it would be hard to take any position outside of the classroom permanently. In the future, I would like to explore the world of being an education instructor to future teachers. My dream would to become Terry Shanahan [UCI CalTeach Master Science Teacher].
I will be starting my 3rd year of teaching this fall and am excited for what a new year of students and curriculum will bring!