Teacher of the Week: Natasha Capell

Teacher of the Week: Natasha Capell

Meet NATASHA CAPELL, a science teacher at 2-year-old, nontraditional Academy High. The native Canadian believes her current work reflects what she was born to do.

"I feel like I have such a strong purpose in life to help teenagers become who they want to be," she says. "I feel like I've always had to prove myself. I don't want the kids in my classroom to feel that way."

The first in her family to attend college, Capell has since collected multiple master's degrees and held various positions before landing at Champaign's independent high school, which she believes is the perfect fit for her anti-lecture teaching style.

Here's more:

What's unique about Academy High is ... it doesn't feel like a school. It's a lot more laid-back and I feel like the kids are less stressed. Almost all of my classes, to the best of my ability, are thematic or project-based. I like to be a facilitator. I don't want to feel like I'm a teacher in the room. I'm never in front of the room lecturing. That's not my thing.

I found out I loved to teach when ... I had three years in a research lab here where I studied limb regeneration. During that time, I TA'd a lot. And I thought, "I really like teaching." What I didn't like was that by the time they went to college, they'd already decided what they want to do. So I decided to go back and get my teaching certification.

I like teenagers. I think they're funny. I think they're weird. I appreciate that they're going through this crazy time in life. I feel that teachers just have such an important role. I feel like I have to support people as they figure out who they are and help them become good people.

The most important thing my students can learn from me is ... all life is science. You have to be scientifically literate. Science isn't like you take a class and it's over. Science is life. It's everywhere and it's really important.

When I'm not in the classroom, I ... box. I box at CU Women's Boxing. I used to run — I ran for years, doing half-marathons and some other races. But I didn't feel like a runner. The first day I put on boxing gloves I was like, "Oh, my gosh. I like to hit stuff and I'm a boxer." I have an 8-year-old daughter, and I take my job very seriously as being a good, strong role model because she is a young girl.

Submit your nominations

On Wednesdays, we’ll spotlight an area educator who is making a difference in the classroom and community. To nominate, email N-G schools writer Lyndsay Jones at ljones@news-gazette.com or tweet her (@__lyndsayjones).

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