From classroom to industry, and back to the classroom! Fifth grade science teacher Ms. Whitnee Boston of Gregory Lincoln Educational Center has spent the past few years of her professional career taking her experience of working in STEM directly to the classroom.
She proudly answers the call to be an educator, advocate, and supporter to every single student that comes through her classroom doors. The 2020-2021 academic school year marked Ms. Boston’s sixth year of teaching in HISD and exclusively at Gregory Lincoln.
Working in one of the school district’s most vulnerable populations, the focal lens of Ms. Boston’s experience in the classroom has been full of constants and variables. It’s a perspective that keeps her determined to be fully present and available to her students. “I come to work each day because those students show up each day,” said Ms. Boston.
Beginnings in STEM
Ms. Boston’s journey back to the classroom began during her third year of studies at UTSA. She was a mechanical engineering major who tutored student teachers in mathematics. She would often recall their joy and excitement about managing their own classrooms and students in the future. Soon, Ms. Boston would catch the same excitement and curiosity for teaching as her college classmates. At one point, Ms. Boston was even convinced that she would change her major to support her newfound love for education.
After careful consideration and counsel, however, Ms. Boston continued her studies in engineering, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree. She went on to work as an engineer in the oil and gas industry, enjoying many of the benefits that STEM careers afford professionals.
Back to Class
Ms. Boston’s passion for igniting and supporting curiosity in others never left her though. She could not neglect the belief that her knowledge and skills would have a greater impact in the classroom, which is why she left her career in STEM to become an educator. “If you’re [going to] go to work every day, you want to be passionate. You want to make a difference, and I remember the difference that my teachers made in my life,” said Ms. Boston.
She has had to face adversity in her new path, however. For example, she wrestled with the realization that many of her students’ families were severely impacted by job loss, homelessness, having little or no access to technology, and personal tragedies. These circumstances brought a sense of urgency for Ms. Boston to ensure that she could deliver beyond her own comfort zone.
Covid only exacerbated these problems and Ms. Boston responded to these issues by adjusting her classroom instruction to become more adept to teaching both in-person students, and virtual students. She learned to better leverage technology for classroom instructional purposes. Most importantly, Ms. Boston prioritized social engagement amongst her students. This kept the students accountable amongst their peers to participate, and it allowed virtual students to feel like they were a part of the classroom from home.
Finally, Ms. Boston challenged her students to think on a higher level by researching and discussing generalizations, inquiries, and hypothesis about various subject matters in science.
“My favorite thing about teaching science is the fact that science is involved in all aspects of our lives,” said Ms. Boston. “Especially with this pandemic, there’s so much science to be discussed during this time.”
Ms. Boston’s greatest concern and commitment will always be to the success and the well-being of her students. “I’m a Mom, and some of my children don’t [and] may not have the most stable background at home,” said Ms. Boston.
“Yes, I want you to do well on STAAR. Yes, I want you to do well on Snapshot, but my main concern is that you know that I want to you to be safe and secure, and that you know that you can come to me if you need anything, because they inspire me, and I love them. I love each and every single one of them.”
For her work and passion, Ms. Boston was named the winner of the 2020 – 2021 alliantgroup-HISD Elementary Science Teacher Award! She was one out of six (HISD) teacher finalists for this past school year. This award was created to reward local teachers who, through innovative lesson plans that emphasize both the importance and fun aspects of science, are increasing student achievement and engagement.
Ms. Boston received the grand cash prize of $3,500 and $500 to put toward improving her classroom, and our five finalists received a cash prize of $1,300 and $500 for their classroom.
The Blue Heart Fund was created by alliantgroup’s CEO—Dhaval Jadav—with the goal of giving back to our community and extending STEM-education opportunities to students across the nation.