GrowNextGen teacher leader

Kayla Mintz

8th grade science teacher at Gahanna Middle School East

Kayla knows a lot about: 8th grade science, medical detectives

What about teaching excites you?
On several occasions, people who are not educators have told me they would personally find teaching boring because you teach the same content several times a day, then repeat it every single year. In my short experience I have never had a repetitive day, let alone years. Teaching is incredibly exciting because every single student processes knowledge in a different way; has a different perspective, different background, different culture, different beliefs; and brings something completely new to the class every single day. Middle schoolers are constantly changing perspectives, even day to day. All of these differences make every second that they are in my room completely unique because they are a unique set of students. I find myself constantly in awe of the real-world solutions, brilliant questions, and tremendous creativity of my students. It makes my days filled with excitement as an educator to see my students grow and change.

What was your ‘a-ha’ moment when you realized the value of using ag as a vehicle to teach science?
I have always been an advocate for outdoor education. As a student I went on a Worthington Field Studies trip where we spent 30 days camping, hiking, and conducting research within the National Parks system all over the western states. That program inspired me to become a teacher, and now I am an educator/organizer for that program. As a student it was incredibly impactful to be doing the “work” of science in authentic settings. Now, as a teacher, I try my very best to create those experiences for my students but I have felt limited because my classroom is not a greenhouse, national park, or natural environment to study authentically. Then, my Gahnna science team and I had an “a-ha” moment where we thought, why we can’t bring the power of growth into our classrooms? We reached out to GrowNextGen and began our journey of using agriculture (soybean growth in the classroom) to authentically teach our 8th grade science standards. Everything connected—now we are planning bigger, better, and more extensive projects to continue teaching through agriculture.