Santa Teresa, NM - A local science teacher is using penguins, seals and icebergs to inspire her students.
Monica Nunez is a science teacher at Santa Teresa High School, and she just returned from the trip of a lifetime to Antarctica. She was one of 35 teachers across the country chosen as a Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow.
She calls the trip life-changing. She is returning passionate about what she experienced, and is ready to bring it back into the classroom. In fact, the entire time she was on the trip, she says she kept asking herself how students could see this through her eyes.
"Just being able to experience what I saw. The penguins - being able to sit near the rookeries and observe them and see how curious they are. They could come up to us and just look at us and then walk away." She also observed killer whales chasing a seal.
"The cool thing about that is the seal got away. The researchers on the ship were in awe. Then there were the glaciers - I loved being able to see the ice shapes and shelves and hear thunder - and it's not coming from the weather."
In addition to expeditions on land, the group also gathered water samples from Antarctica, and observed plankton and crill in their natural environment.
"It was amazing to see how cycles in Antarctica and how they affect the rest of the world," she says.
While Nunez wishes she could take each and every one of her students on such a trip, she'll have to settle for showing them pictures and videos from her well-documented trip. She'll incorporate her real-life experiences into her earth science and chemistry lessons.
She wants to encourage them to explore faraway places, even if it's only in a book or on the screen. She also wants them to dream big.
"I am from here. I grew up here, I went to school here, and I came back to teach here. And I went to Antarctica. I was a kid just like them. If I can do it, they can do it too."