Walk through the front doors of Mount Alvernia Academy and head upstairs. You will see a hallway lined with model volcanoes and hear the gasp of a 5th grader watching static electricity curl and jump in purple tendrils around science teacher Mrs. Maria Lyons’ hand. It is that spark of discovery that inspires her to teach. “What I enjoy most about being a science teacher is the magic sparkle you see in a child’s eye when they make a discovery,” she said as she smiled ear to ear.
Mrs. Lyons fell in love with teaching as a Biology major at Boston University: “I loved science since I was a small child,” she said. “I found that I enjoyed working with children so I decided to combine this with my love for science.” Mrs. Lyons, who attended Northeastern University’s School of Education Graduate level STEM program and holds state certifications for grades 9-12 Biology and 5-8 Sciences, arrived at Mount Alvernia 17 years ago and has found the support at Mount Alvernia unrivaled. “Mount Alvernia is different from most Catholic schools because of its support of the science program,” she said.
Mount Alvernia is committed to its STEM program and ensures Mrs. Lyons has the tools needed to run a robust and innovative science curriculum. Her students have access to iPads for in-class activities and use Google Chromebooks on a daily basis. “The iPads expose the students to exciting science presentations that are available on apps, such as delving into the inner Earth or exploring outer space,” said Mrs. Lyons. Students in her classes use their Chromebooks to access a program call Gizmo. This interactive website allows them to experience computer models of science activities, experiments, long-term term studies.
Mount Alvernia Academy has a strong technology program within the science curriculum; however, the classes also involve readings, workbooks, lectures, discussions, and, most importantly, hands-on activities. “Sometimes they have to get their hands dirty,” Mrs. Lyons laughed. “The value of a hands-on STEM program is recognized here, and I am given a lot of leeway in the work that the students do. I sometimes have them running cars through the halls or working outside planting flowers.”
Teaching at a Franciscan school is a special opportunity for Mrs. Lyons who sees her role as a science teacher as an important part of the school’s mission. “Through lessons in Biology, Ecology, Global Climate Change, Endangered Species, recycling, and gardening, the children learn to become Good Stewards of the Earth,” she said. The Mount Alvernia Academy community is blessed to have such a dynamic educator and living example of St. Francis’ care for our environment.