Questions with Kluss

By Olivia Battles

Who inspires you?

“My students inspire me. They inspire me every day with their curiosity, but also their bravery in some cases. I would have to say that having just got out of traveling to Africa this summer, the people that inspire me were the people I worked within Africa. The African scientists that I worked with, their enthusiasm, their ideas, their knowledge and their passion for their country was extremely inspiring to me. So, right now I think of them when I think of inspiration.”


What is one thing that you couldn’t leave the house without?

“Besides my keys and stuff like that, I would have to say chapstick.”


What makes you feel the most confident?

“I feel the most confident when I’m involved in the things that really inspired me, and something that I’m excited about. So, I feel confident when I’m involved with animals and other scientists that are doing research. When I’m involved with something that’s that inspirational I just feel a lot of energy and enthusiasm, I feel very confident and I just feel like I’m doing what I’m meant to do. If you are doing what you think you are born or meant to do that, that fills you with confidence because you are assured that you’re doing something important. You also have this kind of security that this is your place in the world.”


What is a lesson that you’ve always wanted to teach but you don’t have the materials?

“I’ve really always wanted the students to be out into the world and out into the ecosystem more where they’re actually working with other scientists, they’re actually able to go to some places that they see on their videos and just have all their senses be involved in that place. It would have to be small groups of students because a large group would have a harder time making a personal connection with nature and being out in nature. That’s what would be wonderful, having students actually be out in the world doing the work of scientists, almost like an internship.”


What is a random hobby of yours?

“I read, do crossword puzzles, I do a lot of crossword puzzles, and I go to the gym every day.”


How has your family influenced your career?

“Before I was a teacher, I was a mother so I kind of see everything from a mother’s point of view and a parent’s point of view. Going into the teaching world having been a parent of really little kids first, has given me the whole perspective that I have towards the kids. When I’m teaching them I see them more like people’s sons and daughters, so I feel like that has been my family’s influence in teaching. Also, when you see your own kids struggle at points in their life, which everybody does, and you see them going through things like they’re not exempt just because they’re your kid. I think that when you see that happening with other kids it sort of makes you understand how the family might be feeling but also it’s also kinda like they’re your kids too because they very well could be because they are suffering in the same way. Also, it really helped me develop empathy, whereas maybe I might not have had empathy if I wasn’t a parent. If that were the case, I might have said,

‘Oh well, you know he’s suffering because someone said this or that,’ I mean, you see people suffer sometimes and it’s beside the point whether it’s their fault or not, or you know, their parent’s fault. It can be anyone’s fault that they’re suffering, just understand that you’re a human being that suffers too. I think teachers are pretty aware of that kind of thing but I always like being reminded of it.”


Was there ever a teacher in your life that influenced your career?

“I was the kinda person in school who loved school, I loved school, the different teachers that I had didn’t influence that at all but I will say that I had a biology teacher in high school that actually influenced me to go into science rather than English, which is what I would have done because I really loved writing. He was a biology teacher at San Marcos High School, he was really cool and really funny. He also was really strict, his class was hard and he didn’t just give easy As. You really had to work for it, I really liked that. We did a lot of dissection in class which I thought was very interesting. So I guess he was the one who influenced me more to really like science because I hadn’t really liked science before that class, and then in college, I had some influential instructors in Hawaii and also in City College. They really helped me make my way up in the academic world and counseled me and mentored me. They were big influences.”


What decisions have to lead you to be here?

“What led me to come into teaching was my volunteer work, I was working as a secretary but I was also doing volunteer work at the museum and the sea center because I still wanted to be involved with science. My boss at the museum had left to go into teaching and through my volunteer work at the museum, we were like leading school groups around a lot and my own kids were little kids so I just found it very excited, I loved helping the students learn and help them really be turned on to science. I ended up going into teaching as well, I hadn’t had the idea until my boss had done it, I just didn’t think of it and so I kind of came into teaching after my kids were just getting into elementary school, which is a little later than some teachers but that’s kinda what led me to that. I started out in elementary school but I moved over to junior high just because I was more interested in teaching science than anything else. In elementary school, they didn’t want me to teach just science; they wanted me to teach reading and math.”


Is there a period that you always look forward to teaching?

“I think most teachers might say this, but every period has its own character, like every period is different and every period has this sort of dynamic to it and certain people drive what the dynamic is but everyone else in there is apart of that dynamic so it’s hard to pick a favorite. I always look forward to the periods that I know will be excited about what we’re doing and that they’re going to ask good questions, and that they’re together and they’re going to build a really positive team. It’s always really cool to have a class like that. Every year I have classes like that, every period has its own character and I appreciate all of them.”


What makes a good day?

“I think what makes a good day is when I see students really involved in what we’re learning and if it seems like they’re learning something new but they seem to react positively, so like, we’re doing a chemistry lab right now so that’s been quite the experience but the students really like this part of science so that’s really cool. That really makes my day. Even if you worked for about 5 or 6 hours, which is how long it took me to get this lab setup and to get all the papers ready for it, it’s really neat to have that resonate enough with the kids and later in life it might’ve made enough of a difference to inspire them to go into science as a profession. I also have kids that will come back from high school or college and they’ll say that they’re now majoring in science or that they remember doing an activity in seventh grade, so I hear that a fair amount of the time and that’s just the best thing of all.”

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