When Elizabeth (Galinis) Cannon started teaching seven years ago, she made quite a career switch. Previously, she was administrator for the National Academy for Science in Washington, D.C. Building on her solid science background, she became a geosystems and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) teacher.
While many of her students face challenges, her philosophy is that failure is simply not an option. What she learns about her students—their interests, hobbies, and ambitions—she uses to relate life experiences, pop culture and other interesting tidbits that make her lessons relevant. Teenagers can be a hard bunch to impress, but they love her game shows about rocks and other interesting in-class experiences, such as working on a Geographical Information Systems mapping project. Enrollment in her classes has doubled since (Galinis) Cannon started teaching, and the word around campus is that her classes are one of the “must-takes.”
Additionally, (Galinis) Cannon holds an after-school mentor program (students feel honored to be involved with this group) and works as a homebound instructor for students unable to physically attend school. The class instruction and after-school efforts have garnered impressive results—realizing a 90–100% pass rate on the Science Standards of Learning assessment, even from students who have had significant difficulty on prior assessments. Former students have gone on to pursue careers in science due to her influence.
From their attendance and behavior to study habits, (Galinis) Cannon models what she expects from her students—she’s always prepared to teach the day’s lesson (no excuses)—and exhibits exemplary composure and work habits. Fellow teachers note that they rely on her for advice and support, especially as a departmental Collaborative Learning Team Leader.