Paige Reed aims to erase the intimidation factor from science for her students at Northwest Yeshiva High School (NYHS) on Mercer Island.
Armed with a biology degree from the University of Washington, Reed stepped onto the NYHS campus in January of 2020 in a support science role and is now teaching biology, chemistry, physiology and health to ninth-through-12th-graders. She developed an affinity for biology and physiology at UW, and admitted that teaching chemistry was a bit scary at first, but it’s growing on her.
“I know that a lot of students say the blanket phrase, ‘I’m bad at science,’ when there’s just so much that goes into it. I hope that they are less intimidated and more confident by the end and that they go out and find knowledge when they’re not forced to sit in my class,” said the humorous instructor with a laugh. “So I guess I just want everyone to be a nerd like me with some added self confidence.”
Reed was attracted to NYHS — the only accredited Jewish high school to offer dual curriculum in the northwest — for its smaller class sizes and tight-knit community. Reed is not of the Jewish faith, and said she’s learning a lot along the way.
Greenhouses are new additions to the science curriculum and they’ll be used mostly by Reed’s freshmen biology students. Experiments with plants should be first out of the gate and then Reed hopes the greenhouses can be used by a gardening club and for other projects. Recently, students built planter boxes to reside in the plastic pop-up-tented greenhouses.
“We actually have an Instagram for the greenhouse. So I post on there all of our construction updates, and eventually it’ll be experiment updates,” Reed said. “I’m excited to get some of the other teachers collaborating once it’s firmly set up and easier to plan that kind of stuff.”
Hands-on learning is a big part of Reed’s teaching arsenal, as well as unleashing bad jokes to make class time even more interesting. Sometimes the humor works, sometimes it doesn’t, she said with a chuckle.
Reed is the recipient of heaps of positive feedback from parents and students, and she especially enjoys when she can help make the proverbial light bulb click on in students’ heads when they achieve success.
“I know that some parents have also told me that they appreciate their students being exposed to women and STEM, creating strong future female scientists, which is exactly what I want for them,” Reed said.
The Port Angeles-raised, self-proclaimed nerd figures it makes sense that she grew up to become a science teacher.
“I guess I’ve always just enjoyed telling people weird, fun facts, but now I get to do it for money,” she said.