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Public Health Teacher of the Year Touts Community Science as Key to Student Engagement

  • Mrs. Gina Ayala from Monrovia Unified School District was awarded Public Health Teacher of the Year 
  • Teaching science includes applying first-hand, real-world applications
  • Operation Mosquito G.R.I.D., a community science project, creates a buzz from home to the classroom
photo of Gina Ayala, public health teacher of the year 2021

Teaching science in the 21st century isn’t as straightforward as it seems. However, one teacher at Clifton Middle School in Monrovia embraces this challenge.

Teachers must “demonstrate how science is relevant in their daily life. If a student doesn’t understand the ‘why,’ they won’t be as engaged in the learning,” said Mrs. Gina Ayala, who has been a teacher for 13 years. EcoHealth Vector Education recently awarded Ayala the 2021 Public Health Teacher of the Year.

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Ayala understands that bringing community science into students’ homes increases engagement in her classrooms.

“It is extremely important that students are involved in community science,” said Ayala, who has been teaching at Clifton Middle School for 10 years. “[Community science] gives them first-hand, real-world experience with the actual application of science skills such as observation, data gathering and analysis.”
There has been an increase of community science opportunities in the past few years. 

More notably, Operation Mosquito G.R.I.D. has been popular in virtual and in-person classrooms as a tool connecting student learning to community public health outcomes. 

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“Operation Mosquito G.R.I.D. provided the opportunity to show the relevance of their study of science,” said Ayala. “Being able to see all the photos submitted from other students made them realize that they ARE a part of a community of scientists.”

Operation Mosquito G.R.I.D., a free program from EcoHealth Vector Education, provides students with an experience in a potential public health career path that also helps their communities. Students use the same equipment and observational techniques used by vector ecologists.

Being able to see all the photos submitted from other students made them realize that they ARE a part of a community of scientists.
Gina Ayala, Clifton Middle School

EcoHealth Vector Education programs are in high demand year-round. Emphasizing One Health concepts of human, animal, and environmental interconnectedness,  EcoHealth invites students to think like scientists and become agents of change. 

Educators, homeschool program coordinators, librarians, and administrators can book a free class presentation or citizen science program by visiting EcoHealth is an education program provided by the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District.

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