Rebecca Missler, a science teacher at Alaska’s North Pole High School (NPHS), works hard to make learning hands-on and relevant for her students. Her classes have excavated dinosaur bones from Alaska's North Slope, set sugar on fire to create “worms” (long columns of black ash) in chemistry, and created fire tornadoes in earth science to study induction and the Coriolis effect. Missler attended special training to be able to receive a collection of moon rocks, pieces of science history she shared with students throughout the district. It’s little wonder that her students actively participate in classroom discussions and activities, working hard and supporting each other thanks to the positive atmosphere Missler creates in her classroom.
Missler works tirelessly to help others with whatever needs to be done. When the district selected a new learning management system, she requested extra training so she could help colleagues adapt to the new platform. Missler served on the mentoring committee for new teachers and played a large role in the district’s transition to the Next Generation Science Standards and Alaska’s State Science Standards. Her work on the district curriculum review committee led to two new classes at NPHS: paleontology and geology, both of which Missler now teaches. She has taken a deep dive into personalized learning, a current initiative in the district, adapting her lessons to students’ particular needs and looking to teaching practices around the world for inspiration. Math often gets in the way of success in chemistry, so Missler starts the year with a math quiz, followed by a unit that scaffolds and builds skills where students show deficits. Students show improvement in both science and math with each subsequent assessment.
Missler helped secure a grant to start the NPHS International Club, chaperoning trips to Costa Rica and other foreign countries in an effort to expose students to a wide variety of scientific concepts and projects. She leads the National Honors Society and Academic Decathlon. Trained as a geologist, Missler does field work that she has presented to scientists and science educators at national STEM conferences. She spent last summer working in the paleontology section of a nearby science museum.
Missler earned a B.S. in geology from Lake Superior State University in 2004 and a master’s in secondary education from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2016.
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