Engaging students for 40 years, Rosa Sanchez snubs her (slightly flattened) nose at the mention of retirement. She is as passionate today about teaching as she was when she began her career in 1978.
Why do you teach geology and earth science?
I’ll never forget, It was our annual family road trip in 1965. I was out cold from Orlando to Denver but I’ll never forget when my dad said, “Hey kids, wake up, don’t miss this.” Wow, the Rocky Mountains! I’d never seen anything like that— rocks as far and high and wide as my ten-year-old eyes could see.
Then we crossed the Colorado border into Utah and I could hardly contain myself, one massive rock formation! I pressed my face against the glass and thought, “How did this happen? Where did this come from? What caused all of this?”
Then my dad made an insightful comment, “Ro, every one of those rocks tells a story.” At that point I fell in love with geology and I’ve never been the same since. So the reason I teach Earth Science is simple: I want my students to hear those stories.
What are you trying to accomplish with your students?
I create space for curiosity and exploration. Once eighth graders let their guard down—my, oh my—you wouldn’t believe the amazing things they discover! These kids are not babies, they are our future leaders and they need to learn how to think as such. The secret is very simple, don’t spoon feed them, inspire them to take responsibility for their own learning.