Maggie Blake: From Park Ranger to Science Teacher

Meet Maggie Blake. Ms. Blake researched baboons in South Africa and worked as a park ranger at several national parks. Now, she is imparting her love of science to students as an 8th-grade physical science teacher in her first year at Hutchison.
Editor's Note: Answers have been shortened and edited for clarity and conciseness.

Describe your career experience. What accomplishments you would like to share? 

In college, I had the opportunity to work on a few research projects at the Memphis Zoo, including projects on elephant behavior and monitoring polar bear hormones. My first position after college was as a field assistant on a research project studying baboon behavior in South Africa. I followed wild baboons around a mountain all day every day, collecting fecal samples as I went. It was simultaneously one of the most challenging and most rewarding experiences of my life. 

Maggie Blake researched wild baboons in South Africa.

After I returned to the United States, I pivoted to environmental education. I began working as a seasonal park ranger and education technician for national parks and public lands. I mostly worked at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but also at Yellowstone National Park and a historic lighthouse on the coast of Oregon, where I lead tours in character as a 19th-century lighthouse keeper's wife. My work with the parks inspired me to become a career educator. In 2019, I went to the University of Alaska Fairbanks and earned my M.Ed., focusing on place-based education. After moving back to Memphis, I came to Hutchison!

What motivated you to become a teacher? 

I enjoyed my work in scientific research, but I missed an important component of human connection in my work. I worked for a while as an educator with the national parks, which I loved, but I saw people only as they visited the park. I did not get to develop deep relationships or see growth in my students. I have found teaching to be a wonderful way to share my passions and connect with others on a deeper level. I hope I can inspire students to find a love for (or at least an appreciation of) science.
What are your favorite moments with a student? 

My favorite moment is when a student's hard work pays off. When a student has been struggling with the content but has been trying her hardest to learn, I love when I can show her the positive results she's achieved with her hard work and dedication.

What do you want a student to learn from having known you? 

I want them to learn that science is a way of questioning and analyzing the world, more than it is about memorizing facts. I also want them to know that science is not a cold and isolated discipline, but one that is powered by humanity's love, wonder, and curiosity for the world around them.

Why did you choose to teach at Hutchison?

I was drawn to Hutchison's mission to empower young women to be thinkers, leaders, and helpers in their community. The focus on hands-on and project-based learning aligns with my own teaching goals.

What do you like about being at Hutchison? 

I love how supportive the Hutchison community is! I feel empowered and supported to try new and interesting activities in the classroom. I also appreciate how they encourage cross-curricular lessons and projects, so students can see how the subjects are connected and truly intertwined in the real world.
What interests you outside the classroom? What are you personally passionate about? 

I'm a book nerd and a nature nerd. I love reading (I was almost an English major), and I love hiking. And I love my dog. My students know my main passion outside of school is my rescue dog Nova.

Share a fun fact your students might not know about you that they might find interesting.

I've never had a brain freeze (and it's not for lack of eating ice cream).

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