Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy!!!
Where did you meet?
G: We met for the very first time at Fellini's pizza in Buckhead. Mel was assigned to me as my very first student teacher and I was SO excited to meet her I could barely contain myself!
M: And I was so excited I could barely contain the food in my mouth... I ended up almost choking to death on my first bite of pizza (talk about first impressions). It's become the running joke between G and I that I always choke on my food when I meet someone new... and it does, unfortunately, happen quite frequently.
What levels and subjects do you teach and what's a little bit of your teaching journey?
M: My journey started when I decided that working for the man in various blue-collar jobs was not as fulfilling as I had hoped it would be. I jumped ship, returned to school, obtained my degree, and was somehow lucky enough to be placed with Gerdy as my mentor teacher at a Title 1 school in Atlanta. I wanted to truly affect the way the world was growing and teaching seemed to encompass all facets of my dream job - creative, nurturing and scientific! It’s the trifecta! I’m certified for middle school sciences and high school Biology, but my passion is life science in general. I’ve only taught 7th grade life science and always with Gerdy as my co-pilot…
G: My sister was a 5th grade teacher and I used to come to her classroom to discuss scuba diving and birds of prey. One day she told me I should teach. I was at the end of my Wildlife Biology degree at Auburn University and decided to go right into a Master's program in Education. The rest is history. My first year teaching was like boot camp- I taught 6-8th grade integrated science. Since then I’ve taught mostly 7th grade life science but also did a few classes of reading and (eeeek) social studies.
How'd you get started on TeachersPayTeachers?
G: I happened upon the site a year or so before we really opened a store. I uploaded a puzzle to see how many people might download it. I had long since forgotten about it and Mel’s mother in law sent her an article about Deanna Jump…
M: It was on that same day that we had literally just come from a meeting with administration, instructional specialists and other teachers and were really excited because we had heard that our lessons were unique, engaging, and EXACTLY the kind of lessons that they wanted to see in classrooms. It was that very moment that was the turning point for us. We reached out to several publishers that day, including one who came to see us that same afternoon. After a brief meeting and reviewing our lessons, he told us we really had something. We thought of the “million dollar teacher” and began to create our brand and put our products up on TpT. Once we realized how amazing this site was we went full speed ahead and took every lesson we ever created together, formatted them for sale, and listed them. We spent every waking moment before and after school working on our store!
What's the funniest/weirdest/most awful memory you have from your early days of teaching?
M: Oh, so many. I guess the one that makes me chuckle the most is a memory from my junior senior year in high school. I always wanted to be an artist before anything else, so I took LOTS of art classes. One was a free sculpture class in which we had to choose a theme for the year. I chose cows, because well, why not…? Anyhow, I made a large calf-sized green Papier-mâché cow for one of my projects. I named her Priscilla Silly Milly Moo, the Pasteurized Cow (because she was green), put casters on her feet, and pulled her around school for a week or so. Yes, I’m painfully aware of how very, very strange I am.
G: In 8th grade my classmates made an alphabet book of students. I was “Q” for Quirky. At first I was embarrassed with this title…it seemed derogatory. Now I find myself embracing the quirk. Even in middle school I was ME, and boy, am I quirky with a capital “Q”!
Which of your resources do you enjoy teaching the most?
M: G: I think my favorite product we've made is our Human Body Bundle and the Human Body Interactive Notebook Activity Pack. The kids LOVE to learn about their bodies and each day we have brief notes followed by a mini-lab. They so look forward to each body system we learn because they know they can expect a fun activity almost every day. It’s fast paced, full of fun activities and labs, and it’s all about them- middle schoolers are infatuated with themselves so this is usually their favorite unit!
Frog Dissection Paper Model. It's such a great way for kids to get their hands into the frog before the actual dissection, and for those kids who don't practice dissection, it's a great way to give them experience without compromising their beliefs.
M: Since starting our newsletter and being a part of others’ newsletters, we have become close with quite a few science sellers. Vanessa from Biology Roots and Bethany Lau from Science and Math with Mrs. Lau. They both remind us of ourselves. They are both hardworking mothers who are juggling family and an amazing career on TpT. They create innovative lessons and they definitely keep us on our toes.
M: M: I’m obsessed with organizing things. I’m not to the point of labeling (and never will be), but I am a stickler for making sure everything has a place, and that it lives in that place when it’s not being used.
G: Did someone say QUIRKY? J I am allergic to beans…ya weird I know. I also never pay full price for anything (except groceries – I’m not an extreme couponer…yet). If it’s not on sale, it’s not entering my house!
If you could travel back in time to tell your 12-year-old self one thing, what would you tell yourself?
M: G: Enjoy being young and carefree, love yourself, and don’t worry about what others think - the thoughts of others can limit your own.
M: What G said… couldn’t have said it better myself.
What have you enjoyed most about working with each other?
M: We get each other - we have separate but similar personalities and we know what each other likes and dislikes. We also love a good laugh and when we are together that’s about all we do…well not all, we try and work too! We have been so lucky in that we have different interests and focus on different areas in the business, but we both have a passion for adventure. Our first year teaching together we applied for two grants for extraordinary teacher trips. For our fist, we spent two weeks on Skidaway and Sapelo Islands studying wetland ecosystems with UGA researchers. It was life changing and changed the way we forever taught science by introducing interactive notebooks and journaling into our lessons. Our second trip was out of this world…literally! We achieved eight minutes of weightlessness flying on the Zero G “Vomit Comet” plane courtesy of Northrop Grumman’s Weightless Flights of Discovery – it was a once in a lifetime experience but I don’t think either of us would ever do it again!
Mel and Gerdy, you make the science world pretty doggone awesome. Thanks so much for stopping by to let us get to know you better! Keep on being made of awesome!
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Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy!!!