I’m Jess Walden-Gray. I teach 7th and 8th grade science at Woods. I bring my background in research and my passion for outreach and education to the classroom. Scientists have specialist interests and mine is sensory ecology and entomology. There will be bugs in my classroom and we will go outside. A lot. I’m a person who loves to spend all day hiking and stop for a big ice cream cone in the summer or a hot cup of cocoa on my favorite snowy days. I am the over-preparer and consider candy corn to be a prime hiking snack. Now my hikes include my husband, my daughter, and our big white dog, Lemon Joy. My family and friends are spread across the country and across oceans so I make an effort to travel to visit them as often as I can.
I am new to this role, but I am not new to teaching science at Woods. I taught middle school science electives 2017-2019 and am excited to return to teach general science to seventh and eighth graders to prepare them for a lifetime of learning about the world through science.
I grew up in a small town along Lake Ontario in central NY. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be a high school exchange student in the Czech Republic and study entomology and neurobiology and animal behavior at Cornell University for my undergraduate studies. I started my career as a National Geographic-style field biologist, working in labs and beginning to pursue a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology, ultimately choosing to go into teaching. I graduated with my M.A.T. from N.C. State.
I appreciate your patience as I navigate my first year of this role with your children. I expect that I will make mistakes, get messy, and try new things alongside them. My approach will continue to be adapted throughout the year to better fit their needs. I expect to take at least one field trip per class and integrate student interests along the way.
Both 7th and 8th grade science curricula are general science courses introducing students to foundational skills and concepts that will build through high school. We will focus on the fundamental question of “How do we know what we know?” through hands-on learning, group problem solving and discussion, and communicating through writing and presentation. All students will be expected to maintain an organized lab notebook and a binder that both stay in the classroom.
Here's my class website. You'll find links to Google Classroom pages, a parent/guardian interest form, and course details here.