Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Life Science: Session 5

Dr. Kathleen Vandiver, Lexington, MA

Dr. Kathleen Vandiver

“I think being a sixth-grade teacher is one of the most challenging things I’ve done even as a Ph.D. because usually what an advanced degree gets you just covers a very narrow field. And so, one of the pleasures and challenges, actually, of teaching sixth grade is that you have to learn a lot of background information about all sorts of subjects. I’ve enjoyed it a lot, learning about astronomy and geology. And learning to know the names of my plants. Because as a cellular immunologist, it’s really a different world.”

School at a Glance:
William Diamond Middle School

  • Location: Lexington, MA
  • Enrollment: 694
  • Average class size: 24
  • Ethnicity:
    79% White
    13% Asian
    6% African American
    2% Hispanic
  • Percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunch: 4% versus a state average of 29%

Kathleen Vandiver teaches sixth-grade science at the William Diamond Middle School in Lexington, MA, an affluent suburb of Boston. Diamond Middle School’s 700 students perform well above state averages on state tests, and only 4% of them receive a free lunch. Diamond consistently ranks among the top middle schools in Massachusetts.

Kathleen has a Ph.D. in cellular biology. Prior to becoming a teacher, she worked on developing new instruments in biology. All that changed when she accepted an invitation to teach a small unit on the immune system to her son’s fourth-grade class. “I enjoyed it so much that it made me think about teaching, which I hadn’t considered beforehand. It was a real turning point.”

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