Christ Presbyterian Academy
BLOG: A Q&A with Instructor of US Life Science Lauren Ovalle

Describe your professional journey to CPA. 
I was fortunate to be in an Adolescent Science Education program the entirety of my undergrad education. From my freshman year until my senior year student teaching seminar, all of my coursework was in the sciences and pedagogy at the high school level. I had the opportunity to teach varying levels of biology to junior and senior students. I was fortunate to be hired as an upper school life sciences teacher at CPA in the spring of 2018. 

What do you love about teaching Science to this age/grade student?
I think one of my favorite things about teaching science to high schoolers is that there is a level of maturity allowing for deeper discourse of the content compared to younger ages. Biology and biomedical sciences are two classes that are easily applicable to everyday life, so I love when students share their own experiences that allow for discussion. During these discussions students often ask questions they didn’t even realize they had about the life around us…and that is so fun to me!

What are some intentional things that you do every single day or week with your students in your classroom?
Every week, I try to be intentional about providing a variety of ways for students to demonstrate their knowledge. I do this by incorporating model making, project building, video making, informal verbal assessments, as well as traditional quizzes and tests. One thing I try to always be aware of is that no two students learn in the same way, so it only makes sense to provide a variety of ways for students to showcase understanding.

When did you first know that you wanted to teach?
As a young child, I was always asking questions. It wasn’t enough for me to know the why, I wanted to know the how. From middle school to high school, this curiosity was magnified by my science classes. Once I started understanding the how behind the questions I was asking, I wanted to share this information with others. I spent a lot of time as a student mentor to younger biology students.

Do you have a teacher from your own upbringing who stands out as influential?
My first biology professor in college was a woman who started our year off by telling us honestly that she is both a Christian and a biologist, and belief in one did not have to negate belief in the other. This was the first time I had heard this from a science teacher/professor, and I felt like it was a weight lifted off my shoulders. I attended public school and university where faith was not woven into any of the curriculum, but it was an integral part of how I was raised. When I chose my major, I felt like I would always have to separate the two, so I am thankful for that professor who spoke truthfully to us about how, for her, faith and science were innately connected, and she was just as successful and respected amongst her colleagues.

What deeper learning objectives do you believe to be essential for a student studying science?
One of my main hopes is that students will leave my class knowing that faith and science do not simply coexist, however they interconnect as part of God’s creative design for the universe. I hope students will allow the sciences to give a greater understanding and appreciation for God’s world. Understanding science often requires questioning, and I believe students need to have the confidence to ask critical questions. Fluency in the sciences can help give students a personal responsibility to and stewardship of creation, and a wonder for God’s master plan for our natural world.

Students in Ms. Ovalle’s Life Science class model the vascular system with clay on mannequins.

Share some highlights from your time teaching and your curriculum.
My favorite unit is always genetics. The ability to learn about what happens at the cellular level is so fun to me. Also, it can be so mind-boggling to understand on this scale that we are truly looking at God’s handiwork. This is definitely a unit that constantly reaffirms my appreciation for how uniquely and beautifully man and woman were designed.

One of my favorite moments so far from the school year has been seeing the relationships grow in my advisory. We have a lot of additional time together this year, and they truly are making the best of it. From playing the Wii, ping pong, and cards, I love that my classroom can be a place they come to spend time and grow in relationship with one another. This group never fails to put a smile on my face every single day!

Why do you love working at CPA?
Working at CPA has provided me the opportunity for additional professional development within my content area that I am so thankful for. Being part of a Professional Learning Community (PLC) has given me the opportunity to expand my knowledge and also form friendships with other teachers of this course all across the country.

What do you like to do outside of school?
After a long day, I always will take my two dogs for a walk to unwind! Some days I will go to Percy Warner or Harlinsdale Farm with my dogs in tow to enjoy a change of scenery, especially in the warmer months.

What is your favorite month of the school year and why?
I would have to say my favorite month of the school year is April. I always love spring! The weather is warming up and everyone seems a little refreshed from spring break and ready to take on the last few weeks of school.