WA welcomes new teacher Alexandra Wilson with open arms

New biology teacher Alexandra Wilson ready for a new school year at WA

Provided by: Alexandra Wilson

New biology teacher Alexandra Wilson ready for a new school year at WA

Shreya Voruganti, Staff Writer

Alexandra Wilson is the new freshmen teacher for biology, and she is ready to spread the subject of science. Her love for teaching biology led her to our very own Westford Academy, all the way from the other side of the country.

Q: Where were you teaching before?

A: I actually taught at a few different places before WA. Most recently, I was teaching at Los Altos High School, which is a public high school of about 2,700 students in Los Altos, California.

Q: What made you choose Westford Academy? 

A: Originally, I grew up in New England and my first couple of teaching jobs were in Massachusetts, and I really loved the area. I worked in small towns that were sort of similar to Westford. When I moved to California, it was an amazing experience, but it was a much bigger school and there wasn’t a lot of school pride. The school culture and the place where I was working was a little bit different. I found myself missing really missing that school pride amongst the students and the culture that is at WA. When I interviewed for the Westford Academy position, and I did my little research on the internet about the school, it just seemed like it was more similar to the culture that I was really missing in California, so I thought that it would be a good fit for me.

Q: Why did you choose ninth grade?

A: The way that the grades sort of work at a high school level is [that] you teach a specific subject, and then the structure of the courses within that school basically decides what grade you’ll be teaching. Because I am predominantly a biology teacher, I have one chemistry class this year, but mostly I teach biology. At WA, biology is a freshmen course, so I get to teach all the freshies, which is kind of fun because it’s a bunch of people coming in. They don’t really know what to expect, but hopefully, in my class, they start to get more comfortable with high school and start to figure things out. It’s fun to then be able to watch those kids grow and change over the next four years.

Q: Why did you become a science teacher?

A: I’ve gotten this question a lot actually. I’ve always been interested in biology, specifically because I just found it fascinating how the body works, and how the environment works, and how humans are impacting it […]. I’ve always loved science, and then when I went to college[…], I was talking to my roommate one day, and I was talking to her about the courses I was taking, and how excited I was because I had a bunch of science classes on my schedule. She was a theater major, and she was like, ‘I hate science! I can’t believe I have to take a science class in college!’ And I was like, ‘oh my gosh, how could anybody hate science? Why do you hate science?’ She said, ‘well, when I was in high school I had a really bad teacher, and they just turned me off the whole subject.’ That really made me sad because I think science is amazing! I started looking into being a teacher for science, and just trying to help people see even just a little bit of what I see in the subject, and how exciting and awesome I think it is. I sort of decided to dedicate my life to helping people love science instead of hating it.

Q: How has the hybrid model impacted your life?

A: The hybrid model has definitely made it really challenging for teachers to practice any sort of work-life balance. […] In this hybrid model, there needs to be some level of just letting it go and doing the best you can, and learning along with your students. There are not enough hours in the day to make everything perfect the way we normally would want to. I think that has added a lot of anxiety into the lives of everyone, not just teachers but, literally, everyone is in this sort of like weird limbo environment, in the midst of a pandemic. I think for me, personally, it’s been a lot of work. It’s definitely skewed how many hours I spend planning versus how many hours I spend actually assessing and providing feedback to students. […] It’s a stressful model, but I will say I am so happy that we’re in a situation where I can be in the same room as some of my students, even virtually, to be back in a classroom is really where I feel like I belong. I feel like a tiger that was put in a cage and then I was released back into the wild. I’m like yes, this is where I should be, and so I like that the model allows us to be with our students more and for kids to be back in school, to some extent […].

Q: How do you like teaching at Westford Academy?

A: I love it so far! I mean, it’s an unprecedented time so I don’t really feel like I’m getting a real experience of what it is like to teach there normally. So far, everyone from the staff to the parents to the students have been super supportive [and] really flexible. If I am having a [freakout] moment […], everyone’s kind of like, ‘it’s okay, we all have a million things on our plates; one day at a time.’ People have been really understanding and really supportive, and that’s been a nominal climate to start working in.

Q: What are some positive things that you have experienced because of COVID-19?

A: One of the nice things [is] being able to work from home in the afternoons, which I don’t often do. I usually stay at the school, but it does provide the flexibility where if I have to run an errand, or I need to get home in the middle of the day or go to a doctor’s appointment; that’s some flexibility that I wouldn’t normally have, so that’s kind of nice. I really love arts and crafts, and so I love to make things and do DIY projects and things around the house. I have sort of picked up that kind of a hobby over the summer with being stuck inside, not necessarily working from home, but just being trapped in the house. I also started doing crossword puzzles, and actually, I’m really good at them, so that’s I guess a new hobby that I kind of picked up.

Q: What are some things that you looked forward to teaching but now cannot because of COVID-19?

A: Well, I’ve never been through the full curriculum, specifically at WA, because I’m new. In the past, I have done these really cool biotechnology units where students are running gel electrophoresis […]. When you see the news, and they are testing for a COVID cure, and they are using all of these fancy tools, that’s biotech. I used to do a unit where students would essentially be doing that work, and my inkling is that we won’t be able to be in such small groups. I can’t really do that with students who are home because they don’t have access to the equipment, and you’re also sharing and touching things between students. That was a really cool lab base unit that is probably not COVID friendly.

Q: What is your favorite topic to teach in science to your students and why?

A: I love teaching the human body unit, which is going to be much smaller this year. I think that it’s amazing how little people know about the way that their body works, and so I love to teach it to students because it’s one of the units that they find most interesting. It’s really engaging and exciting for everyone. I also love to see when they realize some crazy things about themselves. They’ve literally been living inside their own body for their whole lives, but they’re not really sure how things work or what certain parts are called, and so it’s really fun to kind of teach people about themselves. That’s one of my favorite units.

Q: Have you had any funny or major incidents in your classes you could share?

A: […] I don’t really get embarrassed, but this is an embarrassing moment, and that’s pretty funny […]. There was a time when I was [at] one of the first schools I taught at, and I was chaperoning an event. […] The students and I were doing an activity, where I had to do a cartwheel, and I was on this team relay race. […] I was like, ‘I’m going to participate in this.’ I was an athlete in college and I can do a cartwheel, so I did one. In the middle of the cartwheel, my pants ripped, right down the middle! It was this huge popping noise, and as soon as I got up, I was like, ‘oh my god did you guys hear that?’ Everyone started laughing, and I was like, ‘oh my god I ripped my pants!’ Luckily, I had a spare pair of pants so I went and changed and it wasn’t a big deal, but it was very funny.

Q: Anything else you would like to tell the readers?

A: […] That’s pretty much [it]. I guess that I am really excited to see where the rest of the year goes and to be officially part of the Westford Academy family. […] Just enjoy the journey that is this unique hybrid model and hopefully get through it together as a team. […] It’s always important to stay positive and be thankful for what you have, so I am definitely thankful to work at WA and stay positive about the rest of the year.