Biology teacher Raisa Eady’s unit on inheritance starts with an unusual assignment: Bring in a picture of your “celebrity crush.” Students at Alabama’s Pinson Valley High School determine the phenotypes and genotypes for a set of characteristics and use the picture to determine those for the celebrities. Then, using Punnett squares, they predict the appearance of the hypothetical offspring produced by a fictional mating of student and crush. Eady insists on making biology relevant to her students’ lives. She builds great rapport with her pupils and uses daily learning targets, grouping, visuals and formative assessments to engage them. Eady does not apologize for her high standards, which students are inspired to meet and exceed in the safe learning environment she creates. They trust her, know she is their advocate and will do whatever it takes to help them succeed.
Eady, the chair of Pinson Valley’s science department, serves as lead teacher for the district’s 150 science educators in grades 6-12. She mentors new teachers and is always happy to help them develop activities that promote higher-order thinking and application. Eady leads the district’s Literacy Design Collaborative Initiative and serves on the school’s ESL committee and transformation team. Eady is working to build a robust AP Biology program; the number of students taking the course and AP exam has increased over the past three years. She leads professional learning communities and professional development for the building and district and motivates her colleagues to “up their game.” At meetings with colleagues, Eady silences any negativity, meeting it with proactivity, productivity and a growth mindset.
Eady serves as a strong role model for students interested in careers in both STEM and education. She coaches the Science Olympiad and sponsors the Science National Honor Society. In 2018, Eady spent the summer working with cancer therapeutics and studying CTLA-4 expression in transgenic mice during a fellowship with Southern Research, a nonprofit biotechnology and pharmaceutical group.
Eady earned a bachelor’s in 2012 from Alabama State University and a master’s in 2018 from University of West Alabama, both in biology education.
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