Teacher of the Month: Vigdis Asmundson
Teacher, Grange Middle School in Fairfield, California
Background: Asmundson teaches 8th-grade physical science, Gifted and Talented Education (accelerated) science, an exploratory science elective, and coaches the Science Olympiad and girls’ soccer team.
Question 1: Why did you become a teacher? Did you always want to teach?
Answer: I started coaching soccer and teaching in Sunday School during my early teens. However, joining the Peace Corps to work in AIDS education and prevention in Togo, West Africa, was when I realized that teaching is my priority.
Question 2: If you were president for a day, what would be the first law you would want to pass?
Answer: I would provide more resources for parents. Parents are the first teachers of our children. Classes that help parents with discipline, communication, study skills, organization, and the many skills we expect our students to know would help everyone. Resources for working parents should be accessible and ... child care and paid time off if necessary. All parents want to do is what is best for their children. Being a parent is tough even when you have every resource and privilege.
Question 3: If you could pick one scientist to come speak to your class, who would it be and why?
Answer: Neil deGrasse Tyson. He expresses ideas with a hilarious and infectious enthusiasm, and is a fantastic role model who helps our students of color picture themselves as future scientists.
Question 4: What fuels your passion for science and teaching?
Answer: I have taught at a private school in a university town, a Title 1 school with a primarily minority population, and also in schools in the Philippines, Somaliland, Korea, India, and rural Alaska. All kids want to learn and feel able to [be a] success. Being part of that is amazing.
Question 5: What topic do you find hardest for students? How do you teach it?
Answer: Family life, which includes healthy relationships. I focus on three things: First, everyone has their own normal. Second, don’t do anything you don’t want to do, and don’t make anyone else do anything they don’t want to do. Third, make informed decisions, because there are health and emotional risks to all your actions.