Jaclyn Gerakios, Science Teacher
Jaclyn Gerakios, 6th and 7th grade science teacher at Saint Paul’s School in Clearwater, Florida
Connect with Jaclyn on Instagram and Twitter: @MissOceanJ
What do you do?
I teach earth/space and environmental science to 6th grade, and life science to 7th grade. I also have a weekend job working as a dive master at the Florida Aquarium. I am the president-elect for the Florida Marine Science Educators Association, a non-profit for marine science educators in Florida. I also volunteer for Turtle Trackers and we monitor and protect sea turtle nests in Florida during nesting season.
What does a day in the life look like?
My days are very busy. I try to make science fun and hands-on. Depending on the day, my students could be listening to a lecture, participating in a lab or dissection, or working on an independent project. My students also get the opportunity to explore the creek behind a school by kayaking. We also monitor water quality around our campus. We have an aquaponics system where we raise redfish from Florida Wildlife Commission and red mangroves, which we plant back in the creek.
What is the coolest part of your job?
The coolest part of my job is watching students develop a passion and love for science. Whether it’s the project where we build an ROV from scratch, or dissecting an organism, I love that look on a child’s face when they are immersed in science.
How did you become interested in your field?
I originally studied marine biology in undergrad. I earned my Masters in environmental education and learned that I love teaching students. I love interacting with middle school students. I enjoy getting them excited and interested in science (including the ocean).
Does what you are doing now relate to what you were interested in, as a child? How?
My first love was the ocean. I teach all aspects of science but I try to focus on the marine environment when I can. It is really where my passion lies. I am fortunate in that I get to take my 7th graders to the [Florida] Keys every year to explore the coral reefs, mangroves and other marine environments there. I also have always been fascinated with sharks. I am the education coordinator for a non-profit called Shark Angels. I have a Shark Angels club at my school where my students advocate for shark conservation and swim with sharks at the aquarium with me.
What advice would you give an adult looking to become more involved in your field?
Teaching in the most rewarding thing I have done. Also, get SCUBA certified! As Jacques Cousteau once said “The best way to observe a fish is to become a fish.”