Faculty Profile: Alyse Reap, Lower School Science Teacher
December 10, 2020
Tell us about your path to Léman.
I grew up on Long Island and studied education with a specialization in Math at SUNY Cortland. I received my master’s degree at Hunter College. While I was studying there, I became intrigued by the idea of working in New York City, which I never thought I would do. I worked as an associate teacher at a public school on Long Island, but after a few years, I decided I needed a change, which is when I applied for a job at Léman. And now I’m in my eighth year here.
What made you want to become an educator?
I always loved working with children from a very young age. Starting in Middle School, I babysat, taught gymnastics, worked at summer camps, and tutored younger kids. I always knew I had a passion for teaching and that this was what I wanted to do.
At one point, I considered going into computer design or marketing, because I loved doing that too. But I realized that I love having human interaction and being able to teach students. There is something so rewarding about being able to teach children something new and see the excitement on their faces.
You have held many roles at Léman. Tell us about how you moved into your current role as the Lower School Science Teacher.
In my first three years, I moved from being the fourth grade Associate Teacher to the third grade Associate Teacher to the fifth grade Head Teacher, a role I held for three years. At that time, each teacher specialized in one subject, so, in addition to teaching my classroom, I also taught science to the entire fifth grade, which is when I realized that I loved teaching science.
What do you like about teaching at the Lower School level, in particular?
Students in the Lower School are excited about everything. They are so curious, and they have so many questions. I have students that I'll see in the hallway and they'll ask me a question about dinosaurs because it was something they had on their mind. I often get emails from parents saying, “just a heads up, my child wants to know if the world will ever end.” I love that they come to me with those sorts of questions. It's so much fun to have the opportunity to foster their inquiring minds.
You teach students starting in Kindergarten through 5th Grade. What changes do you see in each student during that time?
I think what's really nice about Léman’s science curriculum is that each year students focus on a topic around physical science, one around earth science, and one around life science, and then we always have a unit on coding. The curriculum builds upon itself each year.
For instance, this year I was talking with fourth graders about the water cycle, and I was able to reference something that they learned last year to elaborate on their questions. Because the curriculum builds upon itself, they are encouraged to ask more questions because they already have a deeper understanding of the subject. It holds their interest year after year. It also helps them learn more about themselves, whether they gravitate towards physical science or earth science, for instance. Then when they move on to the Upper School and have to choose a path for the IB Diploma Programme, they can make a more informed decision about what to focus on.
What do you like about teaching in an IB school and at Léman, in particular?
Teaching in an IB school really allows children’s education to be driven by their curiosity, especially in science, because they are presented with a problem and they're able to explore that problem as opposed to other curriculums where it's very fact-driven.
We focus on global issues. For instance, last year in fifth grade, we talked about the water crisis and how some organizations were developing prototypes on how to help people who have to walk really far to get water. We used that as an opportunity to develop our own prototypes, which we 3D printed. I think being in an IB school makes students think about the bigger picture and less about facts and regurgitating information.
There is so much opportunity for growth and learning and exploring at Léman. Every student learns about programming and coding in the WonderLab. They are each learning about the world by studying a foreign language. There are tons of opportunities for our students to become well-rounded human beings.
What is your educational philosophy?
My philosophy has changed and evolved a lot in the years that I’ve been teaching. I’ve seen firsthand the necessity for student-driven learning. When students can take ownership and when they are in the driver's seat, they learn and flourish the most.