by Avery Livezey, staff writer
MARCH 2022 — Ms. Catherine Panchyshyn (panch-sure-shin) is the newest Chemistry teacher at Bio-Med Science Academy. Panchyshyn is one of the many new tenth grade teachers, having joined during the 2021-2022 school year.
When Panchyshyn was deciding what to major in at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, education was on her mind, but she fell in love with biology. As a result, she became a nutrition sciences major. According to Panchyshyn, “The major itself is mostly preparation for graduate school, but I enjoyed it because it encompassed all of the natural sciences.”
“As I got further into biology, I really liked the connection between chemistry and biology. So, my favorite [class] was organic chemistry.” Panchyshyn enjoyed that class because she always found it interesting to “learn things down to the electrons.”
Panchyshyn moved back home to Ohio to finish earning her undergraduate degree and enrolled in The Ohio State University to be closer to her family and friends. During her sophomore year of earning her undergraduate degree, Panchyshyn began doing academic research at The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center in nutrition, cognitive science, and bioinformatics. During her academic research in a nutrition lab, Panchyshyn said, “I studied nutrition in relation to children with ADHD. I would look at biomarkers for patterns and see if nutrition had any relation to [the children’s] symptoms.” Finding patterns between symptoms and biomarkers would allow doctors to diagnose ADHD and autism from someone’s biomarkers instead of waiting for symptoms to become more apparent. Panchyshyn continued this research for the next three years.
After her research in the nutrition lab, she worked in a cognitive science lab where she studied a new way to understand and diagnose ADHD and autism using data modeling. Panchyshyn modeled the reaction time and accuracy of new information of children with ADHD and autism. This research was done in order to better understand these neurological disorders and find a better way to treat them. Using reaction times, those in the lab were able to diagnose the children and better understand the way their brains work.
In the same lab, Panchyshyn also researched new ways to classify those diagnosed since there is overlap among neurological disorders, mental health issues, and learning disabilities. After working in the cognitive science lab, Panchyshyn put an end to her research, realizing that she would rather be teaching.
Panchyshyn has always been teaching one way or another. “My first teaching experience was in high school. There were a lot of Syrian refugees in Columbus and I tutored a lot of them in French. Since my family is French Canadian, I speak a little bit of French, and I tutored at the Columbus libraries for three years,” she said. Then, she worked at a psychology lab where she taught Introduction to Psychology students. She also worked at a summer camp with teenagers at Ohio State for two years, and was a clinical aid nurse and nanny for special needs children, specializing in autism.
Teaching was always a side job for her, but she noticed that she never felt as tired coming home from those jobs. “I feel like [the students] energize me. [They] keep me coming to work every day. It’s nice.”
Panchyshin was certain that teaching was the path for her after she worked as a student teacher during her senior year of undergraduate work. “I wanted to see if I would like it, and I did. So, a year later, I applied for M.A.T.(Master of Arts in Teaching) and that’s why I’m here.”
The M.A.T. program is a partially online program that has an accelerated eleven-month track and a two year track. This program is offered to those who recently acquired a bachelor’s or graduate degree and wish to become a certified teacher in Ohio.
Panchyshyn will be graduating from Kent State with her Masters of Arts in Teaching this May. Since Panchychyn is still in the M.A.T. program, she can’t apply to work at most schools. However, Bio-Med works with Kent State and the M.A.T. program, so her adviser informed her of the position, and she is happy she applied.
She thinks that working at Bio-Med has many up-sides. “I do, in general, love [Bio-Med]. I like that I’m able to make my own curriculum and do those things with [the students]. I also love how integrated the grade teachers are, that we get to do things as a grade. If I have a crazy idea about something I want [the students] to learn, [the other teachers] are always like ‘sweet, how can I help you do that.’ It’s really fun to work here for that reason.”
Though Panchyshyn enjoys the opportunities she has because of Bio-Med’s flexible schedule, there are some downsides to it. It can be an inconvenience to “reorganize, replan, and reschedule” her previously decided lessons for the students’ schedule change.
Panchyshyn also enjoys how she can use her past experiences in the classroom. “It’s cool teaching at Bio-Med with a research background. I can be realistic and tell [students] when [they] would need to use that information in a chemistry lab, since I have first hand experience.”
Panchyshyn specifically enjoys teaching teenagers because, “[The students] are still impressional. [Teachers] can still teach [students] positive ways to look at the world, but at the same time, [students] also old enough to make these decisions for [themselves] and start using evidence and justifying [their] reasoning for whatever it is, whether its a math question or a personal belief.”
Panchyshyn also said, “I think it’s a really cool age. You’re starting to make your own decisions, and your personalities come out.”
Panchyshyn has two goals when teaching her students: to help teach the nature of scientific thought so that her students can make educated choices throughout their lives, and to build kids’ confidence. “[The students] are all so intelligent and so smart and have so much potential. I want [them] to be able to use it and know how to use evidence to feel confident in what they have to say,” she said.
Even after Panchyshyn graduates from the M. A. T. program this coming May and she’ll be able to apply somewhere else, she enjoys Bio-Med and has no plans to leave any time soon.