#PREPpeople is one in an occasional series of snapshots spotlighting the people of St. John's Prep
HOMETOWN: Castleton-on-Hudson, N.Y.
EDUCATION: Diploma, Maple Hill High; B.S., Biology (minor in music), Cornell University, New York ; M.A.T, Cornell University
YEARS AT ST. JOHN’S: 3 (previously North Broward Preparatory School, Fla.; St. Mark’s School, Southborough)
FUN FACT: “I think my students would find it surprising that I was a varsity athlete in basketball, volleyball, and softball as a sophomore in high school. Another is that I teach oboe lessons and was the principal oboist for the Cornell Symphony Orchestra during the six years I was on campus.”
DESCRIBE A TEACHER WHO INSPIRED YOU GROWING UP: “A big one was Mr. Nightingale in high school. Everybody called him ‘Mr. N’ and his car had a vanity license plate that said ‘MistaN.’ I had him for Earth Science, Astronomy, and Physics in three separate years. He was so funny. The experience of being in his class was very much: ‘We can learn hard physics and have a blast at the same time.’ It really can be fun to learn this crazy science stuff, and I try to get my kids excited and make them laugh, but also learn chemistry.”
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO WORK AT A SCHOOL FOR A LIVING?: “I never thought I wanted to be a teacher. My mom always suggested it because she was an amazing English teacher. She was born in 1946 and was part of this great generation of women who became teachers because there weren’t a lot of options for them career-wise, so they became brilliant at being teachers. I studied biology as an undergraduate because I love birds. In fact, I chose Cornell because it has The Cornell Lab of Ornithology—I ended up being a TA there in grad school. For my biology degree, I had to take a bunch of chemistry and physics classes. I started TA’ing in both departments and I really enjoyed helping people understand both those topics. It was just fun. So, becoming a teacher was a confluence of things. I loved sitting down with a kid and trying a bunch of ways to have the material click, but I also loved those subjects growing up and I loved being a high school student. I really enjoyed that learning experience, so those were other pieces of the puzzle for me. I got to senior year in college and thought to myself: ‘I love it here, I don’t want to leave,’ so I decided to get my M.A.T. Still, I was wondering: ‘What if I get this degree and hate it?’ Right up until I stepped into my own classroom, I didn’t know the answer. But I have absolutely loved it from day 1.”
WHAT EXPERIENCE OUTSIDE OF ST. JOHN’S INFORMS YOUR WORK WITH STUDENTS AT THE PREP?: “This summer’s Prep Leadership Institute (aka PLI for rising seniors) was eye-opening for me. It really brought to the forefront for me that my students have a whole life going on outside my classroom. Just like anyone, they all have things they’re struggling through, and I really might not know what that is. The students truly opened up there and that was big for me. I’ll be much more mindful of that dynamic moving forward. I loved PLI. I had so much fun. We had an awesome group of students who took it seriously.”
WHAT DO YOU LOVE THE MOST ABOUT WORKING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE EVERY DAY?: “How hilarious they are. They are so much fun. I love going to class and talking with them, joking with them, and working with them. I love having a group in front of me and getting them excited about chemistry.”
*Is she really holding fire?! The answer is yes! "It’s the same reaction that happens in a Bunsen burner, which we use all the time in lab," says Ms. Stone. "It's what happens in gas stoves and water heaters, too." In order to achieve this momentarily hand-held flame, Ms. Stone added methane gas to Dawn soap bubbles. When the soap bubbles are ignited, just the methane catches fire—not her hand! Although this is a common chemical reaction, please do not try this at home.