We’re of the opinion that, if you’re going to blog, we might as well take advantage of the opportunity to introduce the various members of the team here at Eagle Rock. Today, for example, we’re interviewing Janet Johnson, who speaks fluent chemistry, earth science and biology.
Here’s her story:
Eagle Rock: Who are you and what do you to do here at Eagle Rock?
Janet: Right now I am a science instructor, which means I get to facilitate all kinds of cool project-based and experiential classes — with lessons like For the Birds and The Science of Cooking. I am also one of the house parents in Aspen House. Next year I have the opportunity to help support Eagle Rock’s new instructors as they transition into the community.
Eagle Rock: What did you do prior to coming to Eagle Rock?
Janet: As an undergraduate student, I studied biology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. I eventually earned a master’s in science curriculum and instruction from The University of Colorado-Boulder as I was starting my work at Eagle Rock.
In between those two experiences I held various other positions including bank teller, landscaper, restaurant hostess and salesperson at a clothing store. By far the sweetest job was working at a chocolate shop. Mostly I made malts for Midwestern tourists, but every now and again I would get to tend the chocolate or make coconut haystacks. Those were great days.
Eagle Rock: What attracted you to Eagle Rock?
Janet: I first learned about Eagle Rock while I was teaching at the Chinquapin School in Highlands, Texas. Chinquapin is a college prep school for underserved students from the Houston area. Chinquapin was similar to Eagle Rock in its commitment to community, and very different in its college prep curriculum.
While there I taught seventh grade language arts, eighth grade earth science, 10th grade biology, and 11th grade chemistry. I also coached varsity volleyball. Bill and Kathy Heinzerling — the former co-directors of Chinquapin — owned property in Glen Haven, Colo., and told me about Eagle Rock after one of their vacations here.
Life took me to Colorado and I sought out Eagle Rock. I was attracted to the freedom to design curriculum that would get students excited about science. And I also wanted to continue to teach in a residential school setting where building relationships with students is valued and encouraged.
Eagle Rock: When you’re not working, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Janet: When not working, I like to experiment with various cooking processes, such as fermentation, bread making and smoking salmon. It’s all about the process. I try out my concoctions on the students of Aspen House. They don’t usually complain.
Eagle Rock: What reality TV should you be on and why would you win or be kicked off?
Janet: I think I would be on a reality cooking show, like The Taste or MasterChef. I think I would be kicked off because I wouldn’t stand for Gordon Ramsay’s tongue-lashings.
Eagle Rock: What’s your all-time favorite Eagle Rock success story?
Janet: In addition to all of the successful students at Eagle Rock, I also like to think about all the Fellows who have come through our doors and who have continued to teach or work with youth. In particular I appreciate all of those fellows who have ignited a passion for science in their students.
Stanley Richards was one of my first science fellows, and he made quite an impact on his students in Oakland. You want to talk about someone with skin in the game? Not only was he a gifted teacher when was here, he also knew how to motivate students. In this case, he told students that if they raised their test scores dramatically, he would get a tattoo in exchange. They did, and he did too.
Eagle Rock: What’s one thing not many people know about you?
Janet: I worked for two years conducting cancer research in a molecular biology lab at Northwestern University Medical School. I also once slipped on a banana peel while slinging blizzards at a Dairy Queen restaurant.
Very cool, Janet! I loved reading about your background. I am excited to meet you. I am the new Service Learning Fellow this Fall. 🙂
Janet, nice to see this article regarding you and the terrific work you’ve done, and continue to do for Eagle Rock and all she serves.
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