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#WhyIChoseEducation: Janice Arden

As part of Celebrating 90 Years of NC State Education, we asked you to share your stories of why you chose education and why you love the NC State College of Education. Below is one of the many stories we received demonstrating how we’re leading the way in education in North Carolina and beyond.

Name: Janice Arden
Graduation Year:
Program: Science Education
Career Role & Responsibilities: Adjunct Physics teacher, Brevard College, Brevard, NC; Recently retired science teacher, Buncombe County Schools, Enka High School, Asheville, NC

Why did you enter the field of education? And why did you choose to earn your degree from the NC State College of Education?
I developed a love of biology in high school and knew I wanted to attend the premier science school in the state. I attended my first two years of college at Brevard, a junior college at the time, and transferred to NC State after finishing an AA degree. The problem was that in 1975, State’s campus was so crowded that getting in presented a challenge, even for good students. (I couldn’t even get a dorm room-my lottery number for a dorm was 1,700!) So instead of entering in microbiology, I was accepted into the School of Education. It was a good plan. After all, I had toyed with the idea of teaching off and on since high school, and if I didn’t like my education classes, I could always change majors once I got there, right?

Well so much for that idea. My adviser, Dr. Norman Anderson put me in an education class requiring fieldwork in a school near campus, working with at-risk children and pulling them out of class to do lessons in science that I designed myself. I put microscopes in front of those kids, teaching them how to focus and find microorganisms on slides with water from a nearby stream. Suddenly they were hooked, and so was I. No more changing majors for me- I wanted to teach!

And, teach I did. For 38 years. In the same school in Western North Carolina. I loved my career and stay in touch with many of my former students, some of whom are also teachers. I began by teaching Biology, but gradually took over teaching Physical Science, Earth Science (since I had a great background from my geology class with Dr. Henry Brown at NC State) and Physics. NC State was one of the few places offering a comprehensive licensure at the time I graduated, and it certainly served me well. I retired at the end of last school year, after being offered an adjunct teaching position at Brevard College. It gave me unmeasurable joy to help develop an interest in science among my students, and to grow as a teacher through the technological developments of the past four decades. It helped me realize that the principles I was taught in my education classes at NC State are still at the heart of education. Help students to unearth science for themselves and they will not only learn science, but self-reliance, the joy of discovery, and critical thinking skills as well.