BULLHEAD CITY — A desire for more time with her two children has led Frances Martin to be an educator of many children.
While working in the medical field, Martin started volunteering at local schools.
She found her new career, and now is in her 10th year of teaching science at Fox Creek Junior High.
“I thought it would be a great experience,” she said. “Something different, new and challenging — and sometimes very rewarding.
So off I went, to get my master’s degree in education.”
Martin, who moved to Bullhead City in 1994, did her student-teaching at Diamondback Elementary School.
“Luckily, there was an opening here,” Martin said. “I’ve just fallen in love with the culture at the school.”
Martin said she ended up with students who are exactly the right age.
“I like the age level of junior-high students,” Martin said. “They’re still so craving structure, and they can still be molded and convinced that learning is fun.”
Being a science teacher, she said, provides plenty of opportunity to make learning fun.
“Catch something on fire, and they’re gonna be hooked,” Martin said.
That takes place inside Bunsen burners during a lesson on chemical reactions and decomposing of compounds. A heated sugar cube, the students learn, gets broken down into oxygen, hydrogen and carbon.
Other topics the students will be covering this school year include cell division, genetics, evolution and Isaac Newton’s laws of motion.
“(Martin is) very helpful and can explain stuff really good,” eighth-grader LeAnna Harms said. “And she makes learning fun.”
Harms said Martin does a great job with her worksheets.
“They weren’t just regular notes — ‘here, read this,’ ” Harms said. “They were really informative.”
Eighth-grader Adan Soto-Ortiz said Martin is a good teacher because she injects humor into her lessons and when students need help with a concept, she explains it in depth.
Fox Creek is in its first year of serving just seventh- and eighth-graders and Martin said the transition is making an impact on the students’ preparation for high school.
All of the Bullhead City Elementary School District’s eighth-graders now should be getting the same level of instruction, Martin said.
Collaboration with peers is easier now, since they are all on the same campus and not across town.
“When you try to email or arrange to meet up, it didn’t always work out the same,” Martin said.
She said that the other science teachers are great to work with, and other eighth-grade teachers readily share their insights for connecting with particular students.
Fox Creek Principal Jon Jones said that Martin’s students routinely outperform state averages on standardized tests and that “she is committed to the social emotional growth of all the children on the Fox Creek campus.”
One part of Martin’s job that she enjoys is when students come to her and want to use science to verify or debunk items they find online.
“I want them to (develop) scientific skills to solve problems and figure out the answer,” she said. “I want them able to read, interpret and research and know where to look for answers.”
As her career has progressed, Martin’s approach to teaching has been evolved.
“Now I strive not to be an instructor, but a facilitator,” she said. “I want to spend my time getting the students to be self-learners, to find answers on their own. I want to be helping them to teach themselves.”
The school as a whole benefits from having Martin on board, Jones said.
“Frances (Martin) is a valued member of the Fox Creek team and serves as a role model for her students and professional peers,” he said.