Teachers get hands-on experience outside the classroom

Published 2:07 pm Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oak Mountain Intermediate School teachers Amy Miller, Nicole Naro and Ashley Richardson spent June 7-9 at the Oak Mountain Interpretive Center getting some hands-on experience as part of the Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce Teachers Intern Program.

Each year, the chamber matches county teachers with local business in an effort to give the teachers experience in their field of study.

While Richardson has been a part of the program for the last two years, this is the first year for Naro and Miller.

Since Richardson spent the last two years interning at the McWane Center, the three teachers decided to do something different in the biology field by going to the Interpretive.

Working with Interpretive Center Director David Frings, who is also the Alabaster mayor, the three teachers spent the three days hiking trails, observing wildlife, seining fish and digging up spiders.

On Wednesday, the ladies accompanied Frings down to a creek in the park to dig up a trapdoor spider, one of the largest arachnids in the state.

Prior to the dig, Frings identified a trapdoor spider burrow by the creek, and he also showed the ladies what the spider looked like while they were still at the center.

While Frings said the spider with nearly 1/8-inch fangs was not extremely poisonous like the black widow, the brown recluse and the ctenid, he did say a bite from the massive spider would pack a punch.

“This one would probably hurt pretty bad,” Frings said.

So the teachers didn’t get too close to the spider burrow during the dig.

“Would any of you like to grab the spider at the last second?” Frings joked as dug around the burrow with a knife.

“No, but I’ll be happy to use the knife on it,” Miller jokingly said.

Despite some of the scarier lessons such as the spider hunt, all three teachers said they have benefited from the intern program experience.

“It’s been really neat to see the things in real life that we see in our textbooks all the time,” Naro said.

Richardson also said it was great to be able to relate to things the instructors teach in their classrooms.

“It’s really cool being here because you can connect it with the curriculum,” Richardson said.