Union Public Schools
Union Public Schools

Andrea Gaines

Hi! My name is Andrea Gaines and I am a science nerd! I am a Biotechnology, and Advanced Genetics with Applied Biotechnology teacher at Union  High School. I have taught for 19 years. The Fall of 2012 I began teaching a brand new coarse in the Union Collegiate Academy, Biotechnology. 

I graduated with a Bachelor's in Biological Sciences from Oklahoma State University and completed my teaching certification through Northeastern State University. I am a two-time Fleming Scholar (teaching program through OU and Oklahoma Research Foundation) and former Union District Teacher of the Year.

 I have 1st hour plan and email is the best way to contact me. 

Educational Philosophy
There isn’t money, fame, prestige, or sometimes respect for teaching outside of education circles, and second to motherhood, there probably isn’t a more extrinsically thankless job. Also, second to motherhood, there is not a more intrinsically rewarding and fulfilling career. Education of children is important; it impacts and ensures the future. Teaching science allows me to help students build problem solving skills and critical thinking skills necessary for them to become independent, productive, and successful citizens. Teaching allows me the privilege to guide students in getting to know themselves, setting goals, and possibly finding their passion and niche. It is my job as a science teacher to introduce enough biology that students leave literate in the fundamental principles so they can make intelligent decisions in their future—especially concerning genetics and cellular biology.
 Teaching is hard work if you are good, but the rewards are amazing—in the student who says, “Oh, that’s how it works!” or in a student who relays how what we learned enabled him to understand something he saw/read. It’s in the parents you run into at the grocery store who thank you for providing a challenging, fun, and creative learning environment. It’s in a simple card from a student who you weren’t too sure had reached: “Thanks for working so hard to make science interesting for the first time from your number one fan.” And it’s in the student successfully going away to math and science school thanking you for the recommendation, support, and preparation for the next two years. It’s in the student who entered as a freshman, loving English and History, and thanks you two years later, saying she is proudly applying to study genetics and because you changed her life forever.
 I love teaching because every day is different; every class is a chance for all of us to learn something—I tell my students from the beginning I am still learning, too. I might bring an article in or share an anecdote about some cool thing I have read/learned. I am such a science nerd. I want them to feel my passion for science even if they don’t share it. I never imagined when I was young I would someday stand confidently in front of 35 high school students and teach anything with passion, and conviction, let alone sexual reproduction/selection, but I do. I have found characteristics in myself that still surprise me and make me a more effective teacher.
Outstanding teachers are passionate about learning and have deep knowledge bases. They are leaders, learners, and reflectors. They are open, focused/goal-oriented, and flexible. Outstanding teachers have to be creative and willing to try new things, possibly fail, and try again. They have to see the big picture and manage the details, too. Every outstanding teacher I remember form my education to past and present colleagues has knowledge, character and passion. I work tirelessly to challenge my students. I expect the best from myself and them. I will do whatever it takes to find more effective methods and tools with which to teach. I am funny, too. It helps. I use humor, tricks, goofy pneumonic devices, and relative stories to engage my students. I create an environment that encourages thinking and had work. I love to learn things in many different ways and so do my students. Outstanding teachers must be able to teach concepts to various learning styles.
 Science is awesome because it is conducive for hands-on labs that can be simple and prescribed with learning objectives or inquiry-based, discovery, and student –lead. I encourage students to question, share knowledge, ask for help, be okay with not always finding the “right” answer, try hard, which I model. They see me learning/trying new things and not knowing everything but willing to look it up/find out. Maybe a new lab we are trying doesn’t work; they see me learn from this. I encourage by example for my students to be mentors/helpers/set examples. Just as I am a mentor and an example to younger/new teachers, I am also willing to learn, still expanding my methods, tools, and practices, and I will never stop trying to become better. I will tell my students how I talked a problem over with a colleague regarding a concept they were struggling to learn and I needed help. “You mean you guys talk about how to teach us?” “Yes!” I tell them “in most professions you have to collaborate and communicate well with your colleagues to get a job done well.” My job is to teach you. Outstanding teachers let their students see that they believe education and learning are life-long endeavors and want that embedded into their students.

Department: Science Department
Room: UCA 3701
Planning Period: 8:20 AM - 9:20 AM
Phone: 357-6366
Email: Gaines.Andrea@unionps.org
Return to Staff Selection