December’s KBAY Teacher of the Month is Rick Carreiro who teaches Life Science and Biology. Rick received a Collaborative Field Trip Grant to take three classrooms of students to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Grant Provides Authentic Learning Experiences
Rick works with students who are at-risk of dropping out of high school. At San Jose High School Plus, the Learning Options program is “a renowned alternative program for secondary students that need a different approach and atmosphere from the typical classroom structure. Many have been labeled ‘failures’, behavior problems or even incorrigible. I find them every bit as intelligent and often more creative than other students.”
A collaborative Teacher Innovation Grant from Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) funded a field trip to take three classrooms of students to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The visit enabled students to see real-world applications of what they learned in the classroom. Rick says that the Discovery Labs at the Aquarium, “allowed all of [our students] to interact with the actual live invertebrate animals in multiple aquariums. Most of our students had never been to the ocean or the aquarium. In this field trip, they learned about invertebrate marine animal classification and even got to touch sea urchins or feed some of these invertebrates!”
Students Gain Knowledge of Scientific Processes
He also adds, “Our students have a much better knowledge of the scientific process and its importance for classification. [They] are more focused on the scientific method... I am teaching in a way that makes more analogies to science information than ever before. Even more importantly, the field trip has segued perfectly with the Explicit Direct Instruction process being presented to our students as promoted by our Superintendent and especially the Principal of our Learning Options division.”
Breaking Down Barriers
Rick says his biggest challenge is “to try and reach some students who are closed to education and who have erected walls to interaction and learning in general. Many have difficult home situations and/or financial difficulties. Growing up in a housing project back East, I can relate to such situations and try to use my experiences as a bridge to their educational and/or emotional islands of isolation.”
In spite of these circumstances, Rick enjoys the challenge of sparking his students’ interest and he believes it’s all worth it. “My entire payback is when I see our students walk the stage and get their diplomas rather than dropping out.”
Rick taught for six years in Massachusetts before coming to San Jose as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Bridgewater State in Massachusetts. He later earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration and a Special Education credential with a specialization in Severely Emotional Difficulties from San Jose State University.