Lisa Vaaler, Madison No. 1 Middle School
Nominated by Hayden Short
How long have you been teaching at Madison #1?
I have been teaching here for 19 years.
What grade do you currently teach, and what have you taught in the past?
Right now, I teach 6th grade science and social studies. I have also taught language arts in the past.
Why did you choose to teach 6th grade?
I enjoy this age group. Sixth graders are just starting to explore the world and are curious about everything. I love their curiosity and silly nature.
What is your favorite part about being a teacher?
The connections students make while learning and relating subjects to their world.
Did you always want to become a teacher?
No, I started off wanting to be a nurse, but changed to teaching when I realized I enjoyed working with youth.
What is the best part about teaching 6th grade?
Watching my students become excited about what they are learning.
What is your favorite part of the Arcadia area?
The older homes and many restaurants and diverse shops.
What is your favorite inspirational quote?
I have a few quotes I love: “I believe in kindness. Also, in mischief,” Mary Oliver.
“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life,” Rachel Carson.
“Time is a great storyteller,” Irish Proverb. “The idea of wilderness needs no defense; it only needs defenders,” Edward Abbey.
What schools did you attend as an adolescent?
I went to Hopi Elementary, Ingleside Middle School and Arcadia High School. My dad and aunt also attended Arcadia High School in the late 60s, early 70s.
We heard that you have a special lab coat and glasses for science projects. Do you use other costumes when you teach? What are some other unique teaching techniques you use?
I have an “evil” twin Dr. Vaaler who comes and does a special experiment every year. I also have many poop emoji hats and items. I use role playing and share my experiences with students. This helps them to relate and open up about their own experiences. My motto is “gross is good” in both science and ancient history.