Christine Kola was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She has been teaching for the past eight years in the same neighborhood she grew up in. She received her undergraduate degree in computers from Fordham University and her graduate degree in geosciences from Mississippi State University. She is currently an eighth grade Earth Science teacher in a New York City public middle school. She discovered her love for paleontology while teaching an Earth’s history unit to her students. Her classroom now reflects her passion for this topic with many resources for the students including books, replicas, and actual fossils.
The American Museum of Natural History has always been one of Christine’s favorite places to visit when growing up. She was fascinated with the dinosaur halls and spent most of her time there. Christine’s work with the museum started four years ago when she participated in the professional development of a new middle school science exit project initiative called Urban Advantage. For the past three years, Christine has been a lead teacher with the program. She assists the museum’s education staff with the professional development of new teachers entering the program.
Christine Kola. ©AMNH
For many of her students, Christine’s classroom is their first experience with geology. She understands the importance of inquiry based learning. She believes that students must be able to handle specimens to truly understand and grasp what they are so much of her free time is spent on field trips collecting specimens of rocks, minerals and fossils to bring back to her classroom. Her fossil collection consist mostly invertebrate specimens. They are placed all around the classroom. This enables her students to explore and investigate them up close.
In any other spare time not taken up by geology, Christine enjoys spending outdoors. She enjoys hiking and kayaking. She is currently taking sailing lessons. Christine’s favorite fossil experience was collecting New York state’s official fossil, the eurypterid, in Herkimer County. Although this 418 million year old fossil is very important to her, she still allows students to carefully handle it.