Poetic Empiricist



Body in Motion

​As a Science teacher I’m cognizant of how the Law of Inertia impacts me, and that would be the law that says: bodies in motion want to stay in motion, while bodies at rest want to stay at rest. I felt pretty lousy the first trimester of this pregnancy. For the first time in a decade, I slowed down. I let my body be at rest. My child, this astonishing new development, is the only reason I would letup the intensity toward my goals, my passion.

The level of commitment I’ve been sustaining is not normal. My formal job is teaching Chemistry, Biology, and Algebra to adults through my business, Vintage Learners, but my informal, consuming life’s work is creating kids’ Science books, videos, art, and lesson plans. I only create things that I firmly believe need to be created. It’s not a hobby or aimless activity. I don’t do things just to keep busy. I work with the right effort or else I take a break, wait for the inspiration to return. I am very intentionally working out my dreams.

Purpose and Passion

In accordance with Maslow’s theory, I believe, when children feel a sense of security for their basic needs, they are mentally freed up to think and feel more deeply. I remember how deeply I cared and contemplated things when I was very young. For this reason, I listen respectfully to the thoughts, concerns, and beliefs of children. Kids are way more thoughtful and intelligent than we consider. They deserve the same level of respect we demand from them. I’m excited to become witness to my own child’s emerging and evolving passions.

As a small child, I was passionate about furry and fuzzy animals. I spent an exorbitant amount of my childhood playing outside. This exposed me to other, non-furry animals, things like snakes, fish, frogs, and toads.

​In elementary school, when I thought I’d grow up to be a veterinarian, my love of animals became entangled in the environmental movement. ‘If the Earth was being harmed, animals were being harmed’ was how I reasoned it. It was maddening to me and became more so over the years. By the time I finished my bachelor’s degree, overly aware of all the assault and degradation, I felt humans, as a group, were the worst things to ever happen to the Earth, hopelessly blinded by greed.

Misery is an Unserved Purpose

​I was pretty miserable company, I’m sure. My parents listened to me drone on about how I’m never having children, how the world was too messed up and backward. At 19, still living with them, I gave up eating meat because of the waste of land, water, and feed resources it creates. My parents have always accommodated that decision.

For many years I did a lot of volunteering, mostly cleaning up things like streams, highways, parks, and beaches. In high school, I talked my employer into adopting a beach, which we cleaned a dozen or so times a year. In my second year of college, a friend told me about an opportunity to volunteer in southern Florida. We would camp, then labor all week at the Hobe Sound Nature Conservancy. It was the most intense and rewarding work I’ve ever done. I remember lying in my tent each night, in the dark, blissfully floating, headphones in, listening to a recording of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, skin and muscles humming, ignoring the chiggers in my legs, thinking: ‘this is impactful; I’m helping the Earth in some small way’. In that moment, I was happy for that feeling.

That feeling didn’t last long. Back at school, the scope of the offenses against the Earth once again began to overwhelm me. Solutions in thousands of forms are needed and will require top-down and bottom-up commitments. That is, everyone, from governments and corporations to average citizens, must become part of the solution. But when will that happen? It seemed hopeless, and for a few years I felt hopeless.

Awe and Awareness

Finally, like a flash, my answer came to me. The more people who are aware of all the dire problems facing the environment, the more society would change. Demand drives supply. All we need to do is demand new ways. Awareness is the key piece that starts the process. Once something is appreciated, it is taken care of. This is why I became a Science teacher. I wanted to expand the ripple of growing awareness and appreciation.

As a teacher, I want to spark awe and wonder about everything in the natural world. It’s easy to do with so many marvelous examples from laws and cycles, to land formations, animals, plants, the oceans, and even the cells and systems of our own bodies. Teachers can guide students to awareness many ways, but student experiences are especially eye-opening.

Earth Day 2009, while teaching at an inner-city high school, I took 5 classes of Earth Science students to clean a large, local park. They worked in groups and kept tally of their findings. They admitted to being stunned by the massive volume of waste they’d never noticed before. It was everywhere: cigarette butts, plastic and glass bottles, every type of wrapper, and, of course, Styrofoam. Many students were impacted enough to vocalize how they would be properly handling their own garbage in the future.

One thing I’ve experienced and then exploited is the level of student commitment to teachers who are strikingly passionate about their subject matter. In college, certain, rare professors had the effect of impassioning students to the most obscure subjects. This is why I learned and cared about Medieval Europe or lobsters more than I ever thought was possible.

I’ve always chosen to work in urban school districts. The beginning of my teaching experience was a baptism by fire where I learned so much more about humanity than teaching. These specific young students, with all the trauma and history they’d been dealt, just wanted to be loved and accepted, no matter what they were portraying externally.

Through my love and appreciation of these kids, I was able to see I was wrong. Humans aren’t a plague on the Earth. We are part of Earth and many people have lost that connection. Human suffering has its ties in the same root as environmental suffering, the feeling of disconnect from nature. I started to see how awareness of the universe and nature could bring peace to the learner as readily as it could for the Earth. It’s all connected.

​I wanted these students to have the knowledge that helps cultivate inner peace. This new goal was right in line with my original passion. I could accomplish them both simultaneously. My passion evolved; I wanted to “Teach peace through Science”. It was at this point that the seeds of my books were being sewn.

​​Next, I taught for four years at an urban “Adult Learning Center”. I was lucky enough to direct my own curriculum for the five different types of Science classes I taught throughout the week. I was genuinely excited to prepare lessons; I’d spend 20-30 hours a week, at home, doing that. I was excited about every one of the numerous Science topics I chose to teach. Now, these old lessons, I’d taught many times, have become the basis of almost every book I’ve written!

For the last decade, “Teaching Peace through Science” has been my passion. What I’ve created as Poetic Empiricist has reached way beyond my community. I look forward to seeing how far these ripples can travel.

Now, my purpose is expanding again, like my heart, to incorporate my child. I look forward to being a passionate mom. I will hold space for my child to formulate big passions, encouraging right effort, and praising small and large actions. I will strive to always give parenting the right effort. I know my child is my most precious creation and most important contribution to the world.