Meet Paul Clare, Biology Teacher at Common Ground

Paul joined us at CG, at the start of the fall semester, as a Biology Teacher. He recently sat down with After School Media Club facilitator, Amanda Byam, for an interview and shared his passion for science and education.

What’s your job at Common Ground?

I teach Core 9 Biology and I co-teach Environmental Science. I am also a Guidance Teacher for an amazing group of Core 9 students.

What are your previous work experiences? What made CG a good next step for you? 

I have worked as a high school teacher of Science, a university lecturer, and a school administrator, all in Jamaica. The moment I came here at CG, I fell in love with the environment. There were a lot of similarities between CG and my previous school – the school farm, the environmentally rich space. And those are things I pride myself on – I love nature, I love green open spaces. As for the people, their qualities have been great, very encouraging and supportive. Incidentally, my previous school was also a small school with a student population marginally higher than what exists at CG.

What part of CG made you come here? What motivates you to work here? 

I had an initial phone conversation with the Director who spoke of the school with such passion that at the end of our conversation I knew I would welcome any opportunity to work here.  I interviewed with the director and her team, and I was fortunate to be selected. I enjoy teaching and CG has afforded me the opportunity, the medium to do what I love doing. You give me a group of students, and I’m going to “leave no stones unturned” in my efforts to inspire them to come and learn. I am always going to do my best to help those under my tutelage to go after their academic goals with confidence that they will be successful.

What makes you want to work in an environment with young people/young adults? 

I don’t think it gets any more dynamic than that. It’s the sheer challenge that it poses every day. To help them become better versions of themselves, prepared with the requisite skills to be successful at whatever they decide to pursue in the future – that’s satisfying. There’s also a lot of reflection of yourself and you also get that opportunity to work on yourself. You benefit so much from that. And, on an academic level, I get a chance to impart something that I know and that I love. I hope that I can inspire them to love it too.

What’s your approach to working with young people?

Students come with experience, knowledge and information. So you have to start there. You have to value who they are as individuals and what they bring to the table. You have to value their opinions and what they have to say. Once you’ve established that point, then you can share what you think is important for them to know and see if you can find a common space. So there is mutual respect and understanding.

What’s your approach to teaching science?

I try to make it hands-on, student-centered experiences. I try to give students group work to do and make it as hands-on and authentic as possible. Many of our learners are best able to access science content when it is demonstrable and tangible to them. Considering that they are already of the notion that science is difficult.

What life experiences made you want to work in science? What about teaching?

When I was in 9th grade at my high school, I was reprimanded by my physics teacher. He said some things to me that had me look into myself and I realized my potential ran much deeper than I realized. I think that’s what sparked my interest. I ended up doing so well in that subject in that academic year. I did so well in all the science subjects that the teachers decided that should be my area of focus.

When I completed high school, I got employed as a pre-trained teacher. I started teaching at 17. I did that for two years and, at the end, parents and other staff members thought that I should become a teacher. So then I went to teacher’s college back in Jamaica. By that time, it was easier for me to say that this is what I wanted to do.

What’s one change you’d like to see at CG, and why?

I think I need more time to decide. I don’t think I’ve been here long enough to see that.

What do you want students and families to know about you as a person? 

I would love for parents and students to know that I am here for them and I’m prepared to give my best towards their success/the success of their children. I’d love for them to see me as that person who is willing to do my best for them.


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