Vanessa Vidalon, who earned her Bachelor's and Master's degrees at Adelphi University, has been recognized as one of the Siemens Teachers As Researchers for 2012.
by Brett Spielberg
How can I become a science teacher? That’s the question Vanessa Vidalon ’07, M.A. ’08, asked herself when she majored in biology at Adelphi University. Now, just a few years later, she has been recognized as one of the Siemens Teachers As Researchers (STARs) for 2012.
By day, Ms. Vidalon teaches introductory physics and earth science to seventh and eighth graders at J.W. Dodd Middle School in Freeport. At night, she teaches living environment at Freeport High School.
“I teach night school for kids that haven’t graduated on time and that can’t go to school during the day,” she said. “Two science regents are still required to test for the GED.”
Ms. Vidalon, a native of Peru who is fluent in English and Spanish, gained extensive experience in the sciences as a member of Adelphi’s Honors College. Her professors, including Benjamin Weeks, Ph.D., enabled her to be creative while learning.
“Adelphi’s science program is amazing and was the reason I went there,” Ms. Vidalon said. “Dr. Weeks just made class so much fun. I probably take on a few characteristics of his in the classroom myself.”
As much as she enjoyed being a student, Ms. Vidalon the STAR educator was born after she heard her sorority sisters—members of the Scholar Teacher Education Program (S.T.E.P.)—talk about their student teaching placements. That’s when she knew exactly what she wanted to do for a living.
After beginning graduate studies in Adelphi’s Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, Ms. Vidalon gained plenty of teaching experience.
Ms. Vidalon’s student teaching placement was at Mepham High School in North Bellmore-North Merrick, where an educator who taught advanced placement biology and advanced science research had just taken leave. Ms. Vidalon became not only a student teacher, but also one of the school’s most vital science educators.
“My professors spoke with the school to work it out and the principal was so thankful because I was perfect as a one-year replacement,” she said. “It was practical experience building lessons. I had been a biology student, but learning to be a teacher was like learning child psychology.”
With a year of significant experience on her resume, Ms. Vidalon was hired as a middle school teacher in the Freeport Union Free School District.
In addition to teaching day and night, Ms. Vidalon is a judge for the annual science and engineering fair at Freeport High School and the head coach of the girls’ junior varsity soccer team there.
Sounds like this S.T.E.P. graduate has become a STAR in more ways than one.
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