Teacher Resources

Demonstration Teacher Profiles

Power of Water: Stef Paramoure, Oak Run Middle School, New Braunfels, Texas

After serving in the US Navy, Stef , while in her thirties, earned an undergraduate degree and later a masters degree. She became a science teacher. Stef teaches an 8th-grade integrated science curriculum at OakRun Middle School, in New Braunfels, Texas. The course includes chemistry, physics, earth science, ecology, astronomy, and genetics.

Stef’s motto is “Knowledge is power—give some, get some.” With this in mind, she argues that for a teacher, networking is critical. “We can learn from each other. And you know what, if I mess up or I make a mistake, it’s just a learning opportunity, I know that really didn’t work. And then to be able to talk to another colleague and say how did you approach that, that’s the power. And that’s where if we head in that type of direction we’re going to improve our education system.”

She applies this approach to her student teachers. “I have student teachers, and I think that’s the first thing I’ll tell them, that when you come and do your student teaching with me, I am not the all-knowing oracle, it’s a cooperative collaboration between us. So I say to my student teachers, this is what I’m thinking about doing, if you see something that we can improve on, talk to me, let’s work through it because as people it’s too much pressure to try to be right all the time. I’d much rather build those networks where I say, gosh, this is what I was thinking, did it work, how would you come about it because there’s always more than one way to eat an Oreo. And as colleagues, if we talk to each other and work through those, that’s where the real growth comes in. And I expect my kids to reflect on what they’ve learned and what they do. I expect the same as myself because I want to do unto others as I would have them do unto me, and I want to talk the talk, walk the walk.”

Her “knowledge is power” approach extends beyond the classroom. She considers being part of the Texas Regional Collaborative for Excellence in Math and Science critical to her development as a teacher. “Here I was, this first year teacher, not really sure of the content because of my own personal background, and then I go every year, I get hours of science content, staff development, and it has made me just the teacher I am today. It’s amazing, we go and we dig into the content, and talk science. And when you go and talk to other people who care and want to keep the standards up high, it’s amazing what you can do. So the TRC has been an invaluable organization that’s really influenced me to be the best.”

What does she like most about teaching? “I think I’m empowering students to be lifelong learners and to know that they can change their brain, with hard work they can accomplish anything. I had a young girl tell me that both of her older sisters got pregnant and didn’t graduate high school. But she said, Ms. Paramoure, you’ve taught me I can change, I can do anything I put my mind to, and she goes I’m going to graduate without having a baby. And that’s pretty amazing.”

In describing how she prepares her lessons, Stef indicated that she always ties them to the state standards. “My job is to prepare students to pass that test. So I have to make sure that my lessons align with what they need to know. Next, I work really hard to try to bring in a real world connection, and to bring it to life, and to make it really hands-on and minds-on.” She is always looking for new ideas. “I look on the Internet. I go to trainings, to conferences. I’m always looking for that next thing. So, kind of my litmus test is if I learn something and go, oh, cool, I get it, hey, I know it’s perfect for my classroom.”

Recently, Stef was recognized for her teaching. She received the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Teacher of the Year, for 2010. She also won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Math Teaching—Secondary Science Teacher for the State of Texas.

You can learn more about Stef by visiting her web site at: