Classroom Champion: High school teacher encourages students to ‘find their passion’

Classroom Champion: High school teacher encourages students to ‘find their passion’

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - This particular Classroom Champion was nominated for her dedication to being a teacher and helping her students find their own passion.

Jamie Church is a Coastal Carolina University masters graduate, spent almost six years full time with the Ripley’s Aquairum husbandry staff, and is now in her 17th year teaching at Myrtle Beach High School

“I’ve taught anything from environmental science, physical science, biology, but marine science has always been my passion and when I first started in 2004, we only offered one or two marine sciences a year," Church said.

Now MBHS offers six or seven fully loaded classes a year and Church helped spearhead that growth. She said teaching this year has a whole new meaning.

“Keeping their attention span when for the last six months they’ve been able to swipe to the next Netflix episode or the next TikTok and they are so used to the constant change and be entertained that to sit in a classroom for 90 minutes, our job has become more difficult," Church said. "We’ve got some steep competition with TikTok.”

Church said it’s about keeping them engaged while inside the classroom and creating meaningful content all while adapting to the changes.

“What’s been so difficult so far this year personally teaching in this pandemic with the restrictions, other than wiping down desks in between classes and playing cafeteria worker serving lunches, is taking them out to experience the ocean and marine science and seeing me in what I think is my truest element," she said.

She said she’ll always remember her class field trips when she’s taken students to the beach to look for and collect water samples to look for micro plastics on the Grand Strand beaches.

More of her standout field trips include taking students behind the scenes at Ripley’s Aquarium, a trip to the Georgia State Aquarium, the sea turtle hospital at the aquarium in Charleston, and even a trip to Costa Rica with MBHS grads.

“I love when they learn something here, but then they take it and share that information somewhere else, because now we are really spreading the word," she said. "I’m not teaching them about quadratic formulas; this is different. These kids are 18 now and are going into the world and making decisions that will impact the ocean and the world.”

When it comes to the pandemic, Church said she doesn’t let it stand in the way.

“As soon as the kids get here all those things get here, I’m still in a mask and things are different of course and my disinfectant bottle is my best friend, but I don’t know, it feels normal once the students are here,” she said.

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