It’s Teacher Appreciation Day! Mrs. Andi Suter M.Ed. from Serrano Intermediate School in Lake Forest is one of the prominent name on students’ OCSEF applications in the last couple of years. We caught up with the 8th Grade STEAM Village Science Teacher, who’s finishing up her 27th year in the district this year. “I found my first job with Saddleback Valley Unified School District,” Mrs. Suter tells us. “Ironically, my small town roots won out over world travel.”
Working with young people has always interested Andi. “In high school I was an avid babysitter and would organize activities for the younger children in my small-town neighborhood,” she says. “When I started college, teaching was not my original career goal but when I decided I wanted a job I could do anywhere in the world, teaching emerged at the top of the list.”
Shortly after started teaching, Andi found her true calling teaching science. “I have been an 8th grade science teacher since 2005 at Serrano Intermediate and I now teach in our STEAM Village as part of SVUSD’s STEAM Academy,” she says.
“The STEAM Academy is a K-12 pathway for students interested in an interdisciplinary program designed to enhance their college and career readiness in STEAM related subjects. Our STEAM Village here at Serrano allows me to do what I love best, introducing students to the world around them through a scientific lens. There is nothing better than watching a student wonder about their environment, see patterns, test solutions, solve problems, and realize that they can make a difference in their future.”
As far as mentoring students in their county science fair, we can be sure to see Andi’s name on the NAME OF SCIENCE TEACHER field in the 2023 OCSEF applications.
“One of the reasons I enjoy having my students participate in the OCSEF program is because it gives them a challenging, rigorous and rewarding framework for exploring their world,” Suter explains. “A key component to helping students for OCSEF is letting them choose their own project. Because of their limited life experiences compared to adults, students often produce less biased and unfiltered solutions to problems they see in their community.”
“Students approach solutions by asking what they CAN do versus seeing the obstacles in what they CAN’T do. My job in preparing students for OCSEF is to let them try their idea in a scientific way. Our classroom discussions revolve around scientific practices such as testing a hypothesis, controlling experiments, designing and testing solutions. Because each student or group has their own idea, my role is to consult with each group individually to help them take their inspiration to fruition. Ultimately, I have the privilege of sharing in their optimism, frustration, enthusiasm, perseverance and success; it is truly the fuel to my fire.”