Hi, my name is Kelly Elizabeth Muench. I am originally from Marlton, New Jersey, which is about a half hour outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I attended Cherokee High School, where I was involved in many extracurricular activities, clubs, sports, the National Honor Society, peer mediation, Girl Scouts, and dance. In the hopes of pursuing my lifelong dream of becoming a marine biologist, I attended college at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina. In May 2011, I graduated Cum Laude earning a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Marine Science and a minor in psychology. During my undergraduate career, I worked as an Environmental Education Intern delivering stormwater outreach programs to local area schools, and implementing Horry County’s first storm drain marking project. Over the course of four years, I mentored two 5th grade female students at Waccamaw Elementary School. It was during this time, that I realized integrating my passion for marine science and respect for education would be my ultimate goal.
After college, I moved to Key Largo, FL where I assumed the role of a Dolphin Assisted Therapy Intern. I spent two amazing months working with and supporting children having special needs and their families. Concluding this internship, I traveled to Savannah, Georgia where I accepted a year-long position as a Georgia Sea Grant Marine Education Intern at the University of Georgia Marine Education Center and Aquarium. Here I taught marine biology and coastal ecology to students from pre-K to 12th grade in the classroom and field. I also assisted with aquarium husbandry, trained and worked with volunteers, engaged the public at outreach events, and developed a stormwater curricula program for school and public use.
In August 2012, I began working at Mote Marine Laboratory located in Sarasota, FL as a Marine Science Education Intern. I taught informal marine science education to students of all ages in the classroom and in the field on a daily basis. I also assisted with Mommy and Me programs and Girls Incorporated afterschool learning sessions and activities. After one year of interning at Mote, I was promoted to a Marine Education staff member, and will continue to remain on staff.
At this point of my life, I want to be a role model and support system for adolescent students at the middle or high school level. I have the desire to be an influential teacher in a child’s life, instill confidence and motivation, and make a difference in the way that they see the world. I have taught informal, marine science education for the past two years, and I feel as though there is something missing from my life. I believe that my previous informal teaching involvements were my stepping stones that have now lead me to discover the Masters of Arts in Teaching Science Education here at USF. I want to be able to form bonds with my students and watch them grow over the course of a school year. I am hopeful that formal teaching is the next, positive step towards my career goals. I am certain that the MAT and Robert Noyce STEM Scholars Program will challenge me to integrate my science knowledge with new teaching skills to become an effective educator. What I discover and take away from this program will surely be invaluable.