Science teachers earn state recognition

The brain understands physics, but some Frenship teachers use their hearts to help students learn.

Two Frenship High School science teachers were named teachers of the year by the Science Teachers Association of Texas, and both said they reach students by showing they care about them.

Lara Holbert, who is starting her fourth year at FHS, was named the High School Science Teacher of the Year.

Kelsey Slaughter, who is starting her second year this week at FHS, was named the Rookie Science Teacher of the Year.

Both teachers trained for a career as biology teachers, but were assigned to other duties at FHS.

Holbert said her first year she taught biology, integrated chemistry and physics. She taught physics her second year, but was hesitant to give it a try because she had only had a few physics courses in college.

Now she loves teaching physics.

Her teaching style and her philosophy are “fluffy,” she said. She often takes the scientific terms of physics and translates them for her students, finding innovative ways to teach the material to them.

“I’ve just got to make it fun,” she said. Her lessons include labs with water balloon slingshots and pipe insulation roller coasters. This year, she hopes to use zombie apocalypse to teach about projectiles.

Students currently enrolled in FHS must take four units of high school science, so there are many students wrestling with the matter, energy and forces in Holbert’s classes.

But Holbert said if you just show those students you care about them, you can teach them anything.

She goes to school early and stays late to help students understand physics because she said a lot of parents might not be able to help their children with tricky physics homework.

Her co-worker, Slaughter, also shares her philosophy of showing students how much she cares about them.

“I think that in order to teach kids, you have to have a relationship with them,” Slaughter said.

She taught chemistry last year, but she has joined Holbert this year as a physics teacher.

She credits other chemistry teachers at FHS on her team for her award, as well as her science teachers at South Plains College and Texas Tech.

“They helped me out a lot,” she said. “I got to steal a lot of ideas from all the really talented people around me.”

Slaughter said she went to college aiming to become a physician’s assistant, but a part-time job as a substitute teacher made her realize she would love teaching. That job also helped her tie down what age group she would be best with.

“I can’t do elementary,” Slaughter said with a laugh, noting that she only lasted one day at an elementary school. “I love high school.”

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