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1st-Quarter 2017 Scholarship Winner

Name: Michelle VandyBogurt

Role: High School Science Teacher, Middle and High School Robotics Coach

School: Northwest High School

Located: Jackson, MI

Number years teaching: 24


What do you teach and to what grade(s)?

9th grade Investigative Science, 9th-12th grades Introduction to Robotics 1 and 2, 11th-12th grades Human Anatomy & Physiology

Why do you like what you teach?

I love working with students! That is the primary reason I teach. Specifically, I love working with teenagers and helping them learn about their world through science. Sharing my love of learning with students is a joy! Turning on reluctant learners to the joys of science inspires me daily to achieve my best.

Did you always want to be a teacher?

I went to school studying to be an archaeologist. I learned quickly, though, that I wanted time to have my own children and to work with teenagers on a more consistent basis. When I went back to school after starting my family and helping manage our family farm, I knew that I wanted to work with teenagers and share my love of learning and science.

Why do you like to teach with hands-on products?

We are all kinesthetic learners to some degree, and students today are proving to learn best that way more and more often, I have found. I enjoy using my hands to explore materials and create things, so this part of science is so rewarding for me as I literally get to show my students how objects are put together and then have them put them together themselves in different ways. Students utilize more of their senses when using hands-on projects and so create more neural pathways through those learning experiences. Different media will be used to demonstrate how to assemble a device, show others final products, hear suggestions from others through feedback on how to correct a problem, or teach others how to create something new from the same materials, for instance. The more connections we make through our senses to a concept, the more likely we will be to retain and apply it to a new situation.

How long have you been using Pitsco Education products?

I’ve been using Pitsco Education products for over 22 years.

What is your favorite Pitsco Education product and why?

My favorite Pitsco Education product is the new TETRIX® PRIME R/C kit. The ability to assemble, test, and revise designs within one class period is a tremendous advantage to students with disabilities and challenges as well as those on the gifted end of the academic spectrum. The low cost for the materials you get in the kit is also advantageous to schools and programs struggling to provide hands-on, STEM-related materials for students.

What's your greatest teaching accomplishment?

My greatest teaching accomplishment is having students come back to visit and share how something we did in class or something I shared with them has helped them in college or in the real world. This motivates and inspires me to push myself daily when I am tired or feeling like students are just missing some critical point in an activity. When I remember that what I have shared with and the opportunities I have helped provide a student really did make his or her life better, it is all I need to continue on each day.