After 14 years spent teaching science at Schoenbar Middle School, Frankie Urquhart is making a change, taking up a position as the health sciences teacher at Ketchikan Hig School this school year.
It’s her first time teaching at Kayhi — she’ll be instructing on medical terminology, health, anatomy and physiology — but it’s not Urquhart’s first time in the home of the Kayhi Kings.
“I’m a Kayhi graduate, so it’s pretty cool to be back in the building, even though it’s a lot different,” Urquhart said during a recent phone interview with the Daily News. “But I'm really looking forward to reconnecting with former students and meeting new students.”
Urquhart has been a teacher for two decades, including six years spent teaching high schoolers in northern Alaska and 14 years in her science classroom at Schoenbar.
She views teaching science at the middle school level as important.
“I felt like (it was) my responsibility, because not all elementary school aged kids get science, because the elementary teachers have so much that they have to teach the kids throughout the day,” she said.
Uruqhart added, “I felt like I was their first opportunity to learn science, whether that was true or not. And I felt like the most important thing for me in my position was to instill the idea that everyone can do science and this love for science and try to make it fun and relevant.”
Now, she’ll bring the same mission to Kayhi when school starts this Thursday.
There are differences when it comes to high school science, where “you can have the more complex and rich conversations regarding science, because their science background is more broad and you can go deeper,” Urquhart explained about the change.
She also noted that her seventh- and eighth-graders brought energy and enthusiasm into the classroom, “But at high school, their energy levels are different.”
“They don’t always necessarily come ready with energy, so you have to put in a lot more energy to get that energy back,” she continued.
Teaching science at high school level is also about “moving them onto the next level” of science, so the student is prepared to do well in their next science class, whether that be at Kayhi, college or a trade school.
At Kayhi, Urquhart said she might find herself in a class with the now- sophomores, juniors and seniors she taught as Schoenbar middle schoolers.
“They change a lot from seventh and eighth grade, and you get some really amazing students, and to have the opportunity to teach those guys again, I’m really excited,” she commented.
Regardless of the change in schools, Urquhart is excited to continue teaching science, especially with, aspects of science being brought to the forefront during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Her goals are “communication and building culture” in the classroom.
“The mental and physical health is just so important, and I’m really excited to really explore that with my students and make sure we all have the tools to make sure we get through where we are right now, whether we’re struggling or doing OK,” Urquhart said.