A Teacher to Remember

At 4 am, Ms. Stephanie Staicer begins her day. With a cup of coffee in her hand and a stack of papers, FRQs, worksheets and a calendar filled with lesson plans, packed neatly into her bag as she begins the school day.

Holding a Master’s in Biology, a brain filled with scientific expertise and a great sense of humor, she’s practically unstoppable. Not only does she teach science, AP Biology and Pre-AP Chemistry, but she’s also the co-sponsor of the Science National Honor Society, sponsor of the video game club, and manages a variety of after school labs.

Ms. Staicer is a busy woman. She’s constantly planning lessons for her students and finding new ways to teach AP Biology. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have time to help her students.

Whether it’s questions about biology, questions pertaining to the wonders of science, or college advice, Ms. Staicer is always there to help.

“Can you explain DNA Replication one more time?”

“What do plasmids even do?”

“How do I survive college biology without your wisdom?”

Those were just some of the questions I’d ask Ms. Staicer as a naive junior. Coming to her class, before school, during sixth period and after school, never failed to amuse me. She was always ready to teach me something new and exciting.

Whether it’s discussions about biology or debates about the latest Final Fantasy game, Ms. Staicer knew how to get her students engaged with amazing lessons. Hands on labs, notes accompanied with interesting stories and facts, the possibilities are endless.

Visiting her quite often as a senior showed me that things never changed. Before school, she’s still setting up her daily classroom activities and answering her students’ dying questions, including my complex and strange questions. After school, she still holds amazing tutorials with engaging and in-depth lectures and is always answering questions to spectacular wonders behind the scientific world.

“I initially wanted to become a veterinarian but soon realized that career wasn’t for me,” Ms. Staicer said. “I could’ve pursued a PhD as well, but I didn’t want to go through eight more years of schooling.”

Deciding to pursue teaching over a veterinary career and sacrificing a PhD, Ms. Staicer saw her skills were better utilized in teaching students. With no regrets, she wouldn’t trade teaching for anything in the world.

Then I asked her the million dollar question: “What’s your favorite part about being a teacher?”

“It’s definitely interacting and sharing my interest of science with students; I get to walk around and not be confined to a desk all day,” Ms. Staicer answered as she’s shooing me away to rehearsals.

Additionally, Ms. Staicer had this advice to offer about the future.

“Honestly,” Ms. Staicer said as she began her after school tutorial session, “it’s all about doing what you love. Don’t push yourself to like something and end up unhappy. Do what you love and everything will end up okay.”

Outside of science, Ms. Staicer has helped her students with college in countless ways. Not only did she help me with my college journey by arranging mock interviews, writing a letter of recommendation and providing college advice, but she taught me to not give up after facing defeat and to move forward no matter what.

“There’s so much you can do; don’t let this one grade limit your abilities,” I recall Ms. Staicer telling me. “Wherever you go, I know you’ll be doing great things.”

She would not let a few digits and a minor setback define who her students are. As a result, she’s pushed and inspired her students to achieve beyond the limits.

Today, her former students are still asking her for help. Nhi Nguyen, a former Morton Ranch High School student, frequently asks her for both college advice and advice pertaining to the difficulties of college Biology. Recently, alumnae Sydney Scace and Amy Nguyen have visited Ms. Staicer again with questions about college life and how to make the best of pursuing biology.

Most of her students still keep their AP Biology notebooks to this day, carrying both knowledge and the lessons Ms. Staicer has bestowed upon them. Although most of her former students have graduated, her students who are seniors today still visit her frequently and ask her for advice or simply swing by for a greeting.

Some of her former AP Biology students still swing by and ask for help with the Biology SAT or a second round of the AP Biology exam. Whether it’s science in the classroom or real word advice, Ms. Staicer is always there to help.

Before ending the interview, I asked one final bonus question: “Have you ever been Rick-rolled?”

“Why, yes I have; I wonder from who?” Ms. Staicer said, clearly sarcastic, as she looked at me. “I wonder how many times I’m gonna be rickrolled this Valentine’s day?”

And on that note she said her signature phrase to close the day, “Have a nice day! Don’t forget to make good choices!”