The talent and passion of teachers in the MetroRESA network is unbelievable, and Heather McNair is a true standout! Ms. McNair is in her 4th year at Marietta High School, where she teaches Biology and IB Environmental Sciences and coaches Varsity Softball.

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Thanks to grant funds, Ms. McNair is bringing 4 greenhouses to the Marietta HS campus. The greenhouses will be equipped with hydroponics units that the students are building. They do not use soil, and there are no chemicals; instead, they use biodegradable feed pods. The best part of the project is it is completely student-run. In fact, one of the students figured out that they can cultivate worms to provide enough nutrients to incorporate into the water.

Ms. McNair has grown accustomed to navigating the red tape that surrounds such a big project. While waiting for all the approvals needed for the building of the greenhouses, she has hydroponics and worms hangin’ out in her classroom. Once the greenhouses are complete, they will grow seasonal fruits and vegetables to donate to lower income families in the area.

(Pic: Students working on an enzyme lab and macromolecule interactions)

In 4 short years, Ms. McNair’s list of accomplishments runs deep. As she worked towards her teaching certification through Metro RESA, she received the Valeri Mathis Camp Award of Excellence. This is an annual award given to a stellar GaTAPP candidate, and the nomination came from her field supervisor. She has also been honored with the Rose Wing Award, and she received Honorable Mention at the 2017 NAACP conference for teachers who have gone through an alternative certification program – this is a huge honor!

By way of grants, Ms. McNair received the Charter Innovation Grant for Marietta City School. As an environmental science teacher, having enough supplies is an important part of bringing learning alive and giving students the best opportunities. This grant provided $15,880 for technology and lab supplies. “It has made a huge difference with our ELL learners by having hands-on activities,” says Ms. McNair, and they have seen a huge improvement in scores as well. Additionally, the State Farm Use Advisory Board Service Learning Grant provided $75,000 for the 4 student-led greenhouses. Ms. McNair and the students have been working so hard on this, and we are excited to see the fruits (and veggies) of their labor!

hydroponics grant

(Pic: Biome Speed Dating)

Q&A with Ms. McNair….

What did you do before teaching?

  • I was a Paramedic for Cobb County and worked at a hospital before that. It always felt like a job and not necessarily a career. Being on the ambulance, you get burned out really fast and the schedule is tough. The GaTAPP program fit my schedule perfectly to become a certified teacher.

Favorite teaching moments:

  • I love when students from previous years come back; whether just to say hi, or if they need advice or questions or extra help. Knowing they think highly enough of me to come back is encouraging.

What is your biggest piece of advice to new teachers?

  • There is so much information thrown out at you all at the same time. So you don’t feel overwhelmed, take one or two pieces of info at a time and focus on mastering those.

Congratulations to Heather McNair on being this month’s Teacher Spotlight. Thank you, Ms. McNair for exemplifying a fabulous educator who invests so much into your students! We are proud of your hard work and accomplishments.