Teacher at Sea

When students ask Naperville Central science teacher Leah Johnson what she did on her summer vacation, they may find her response a little fishy.

“I was a Teacher at Sea, so I went out to the Southeast Atlantic on the NOAA ship Pisces, and I helped the scientist onboard to monitor the fish that are present in the area,” said Johnson.

For two weeks, Johnson sailed with a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, crew along the Outer Banks of the Carolinas.

Everyday from six a.m. to six p.m., she assisted with the collection, identification, and analysis of native fish caught in the crew’s traps.

“We’d bring them up, start sorting through the fish that went into the traps and sort them by species and measure the length and find the mass of the different collections of different fish. Some of those fish were kept to be analyzed, others we returned to the sea,” said Johnson.

The data collected on the voyage will be used to help Atlantic fisheries determine when and where fishing will be open in different areas of the ocean.

“We can make sure we’re being good stewards and not over fishing, that’s really the big idea here,” said Johnson.

This type of hands on learning is encouraged by the administration at Naperville Central, who supported Johnson’s desire to go on the expedition.

“I just think that anytime a teacher has an opportunity to kind of get outside their regular learning environment it just adds so much to the classroom. It just adds to them as a person, and adds to what they are able to share with the students,” said Katherine Seguino, Science Instructional Coordinator at Naperville Central High School.

Thanks to her experience at sea, Johnson plans to incorporate a newfound knowledge and passion for the ocean into her classroom this year.

“For any educators who are interested in it, at any level and any disciple, it’s a phenomenal opportunity. I would do it again in a heartbeat,” said Johnson.

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