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Featured Teacher: Jeff Witters

Jeff Witters, Credit: Lani Witters

Witters teaches College Biology and College/AP Environmental Science at Olathe South High School in Olathe, Kansas. He also teaches Field and Lab Biology for Emporia State University’s satellite campus at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas.

Question 1: What fuels your passion for science and teaching?

Answer: I want my students to find again their wonder at the amazing world they are in, and to kindle a desire to rise to the challenges of their time, even if they are huge and scary at first look. 

Question 2: What are you most proud of in your work?

Answer: Four years ago, several students and I took over an abandoned "temporary" greenhouse behind the school as a sustainability project. It is now the center of a campus farm used regularly by two courses and more than 150 students this year, with over 700 sq ft of growing beds, an orchard, and a growing space inside heated with hot compost in the winter. This fall my students harvested tomatoes and peppers each week, giving away 15 to 25 bags of fresh veggies weekly to students in need.

Question 3: What do you do to remain current and bring the latest science into the classroom?

Answer: I love to read. I read Science and Nature each week, then a long list of online journals, magazines, and blogs, usually at lunch. Research conferences and presentations are great for getting the personal side of science.

Question 4: Tell us about a hobby or passion outside of work.

Answer: I'm a birder and always have a mental channel tuned to birds if I am outside. A childhood trip from Kansas to Colorado stunned me with all the different birds in the mountains, and I've never looked back. I love the mental gymnastics of identification from a moment's glimpse or a fragment of sound, but it is also great fun to help others pick up the basics of the birds.  

Question 5: In three words, what would your students say they learned from you?

Answer: Notice Your World


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<p>Jeff Witters, Credit:&nbsp;Lani Witters</p>
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