From an early age, Terri Wattawa knew she wanted to be an educator. Her paternal grandmother was a sixth grade English teacher, and her maternal grandmother was a second-grade elementary teacher. Due to this background, Terri is fond of saying that “teaching is in her blood.” As a child Terri’s favorite subject was science. Her father was in the Navy, so the family moved around the country a lot. However, no matter where they lived, Terri could be found exploring nature, picking up bugs, and getting her hands dirty like a scientist in training.

From 1991 until 1995, Terri Wattawa attended Arizona State University where she studied Biological Sciences. After graduating from college, she worked as an eighth grade integrated science instructor/science curriculum coordinator. One of the best aspects of being a teacher is helping students figure things out on their own. Terri tried to make her lessons as interactive as possible rather than just lecturing for the entire class period. This strategy helped her students remain attentive and engaged in the work.

Science education is vital to a child’s development because it teaches children skills that they will use for the rest of their lives. Developing and testing ideas is an essential part of the scientific process. Throughout life, people have to be able to consume information and make conclusions as a result.  Science education prepares students for these types of situations. By engaging with students and using inquiry to encourage children to dig deeper and draw connections, Terri Wattawa helps children learn skills that will make a positive impact for the rest of their lives.

After spending many years in the classroom, Terri Wattawa moved to the administration side of education in 2006 when she became the Assistant Principal-Curriculum/AP Coordinator at Basha High School in the Chandler Unified School District. While Terri missed spending time in the classroom, she felt that she was able to positively affect the lives of more students in an administrative role. Her duties included supervising the school’s educators, implementing counseling procedures, and advising students among other responsibilities.

One of the most important lessons that Terri Wattawa learned in the classroom is patience, persistence and perseverance.  It’s vital for educators to have these qualities—not just for their students—but everyone that touches to school community.  Science educators, in particular, need to be prepared to meet parents and the community in the middle. Today scientific subjects like evolution and climate change are controversial, so science teachers must be prepared to deal with the issues related to these subjects. In the end what’s most important is that children have an environment where they are comfortable and where they feel like they are part of a community. Over the course of her career, Terri has striven to provide this type of environment for every student.