The Okemos Public School District is a K-12 suburban school district located near Michigan’s state capital, Lansing. It also bumps up against the southeastern boundary of Michigan State University’s vast land grant campus. The Okemos Public Schools are well known for their educational excellence, as well as their strong parent involvement and community support. In fact, Okemos High School is consistently ranked in the top ten “Best High Schools” as ranked by the U.S. News & World Report.

From 1994-1998, I taught math, science, and technology/design courses in Okemos’ Chippewa Middle School. There, I taught seventh grade science as part of a four-person, interdisciplinary teaching team and eighth grade mathematics in a non-teamed arrangement. Our seventh grade teaching team shared 100-125 common students who rotated through a number of interdisciplinary units made possible by block(ed) scheduling.

During this period, I also began taking masters-level science courses in biology and ecology at Michigan State University.