Life can take people in unexpected directions. Jaye Shomaker knows this well.
“I was actually a hairdresser,” said the seventh-grade science teacher at Ken Caryl Middle School.
Prior to venturing into the classroom, Shomaker cut and styled hair — often for teachers.
“I just became interested in just hearing their stories,” she said.
Intrigue and hopes of better pay and career stability led her in the direction of many of her former clients. As a teacher at Ken Caryl, she fits well.
“It’s like a small-town community. … It’s not too big,” she said.
Though Shomaker said she uses hands-on activities to cover subjects in science, she likes to be more of a facilitator for students’ learning processes than a traditional lecturer.
“I like the kids to learn by inquiry. I try to put together lessons that pique their interest,” she said.
Such lessons might include fabricating movable joints that function similarly to those found in humans and other animals. Students created working joints using household items or anything they could find.
“I had one student use wood and a fishing reel,” she said. “It was a leg, and it had a high-heel shoe.”
Projects like that not only help students master concepts but can also help them in areas outside the classroom, she said.
“We’re getting ready to do foods and digestion,” she said, noting that students can get a valuable grasp of the importance of proper nutrition. “They really come away with a lot.”
The potential closure of the middle school is not going to be easy — for faculty or students, she said.
“I think it’s going to be hard on them,” she said of the kids. “I hope that I can move to Deer Creek. … That would be my first choice.”
But as she knows well, the future is uncertain.
“You never know where you’re going to end up,” she said.