Pat Taylor, long-time friend of Teton Science Schools, recently announced that she is retiring. While she was here with the Saratoga 8th grade students in April, I interviewed her about her experiences with Teton Science Schools over the years and her plans for the future.

How long have you been bringing students to Teton Science Schools?
“I came to the Kelly Campus as a chaperone with my son’s 8th grade class about 18 years ago, in 1994. I was a chaperone for 2 years, and then we had to go to Canyonlands for a few years because we were too small of a group for the Kelly Campus. I have been leading the trip to the Jackson Campus since it opened. Many of the students that I bring now have older brothers or students who I have taken to Teton Science Schools in the past.”

How long have you been at Saratoga Middle & High School and what’s your role there?
“I’ve been at Saratoga Middle and High School for 19 years, and I am the librarian there. I also lead an annual middle school hike into the Snowy Range every September, and I’m the head speech coach for the High School. Since I’ve been the head coach of the speech team we have won 2 state championships – one of which was this year.”

Why do you continue bringing the students every year? What do you see as the value for them?
“I want them to learn more about this area. I think they take their homes for granted; they don’t see what’s around them. Here they learn a different way to see things and gain an appreciation for their home back in Saratoga.”

What is your most memorable moment from Teton Science Schools’ trips?
“When the students finally go to sleep at night? No, each class is so individual and different. They each have something really humorous that they did, or a key “ah-ha” moment. I like to see a student get really engrossed in the stream study.
“One real favorite is when the students thought one of the younger chaperones was older than me.”

You’ve attended the Wyoming Stream Team workshop in the past. How did that training benefit you?
“When I went back to school, I tried to get more teachers involved at the Middle and High School. I was able to get a lot of the teachers at the Elementary School interested and also another teacher from Hanna-Elk Mountain Middle and High School in the district into the training. The training has allowed me to be better prepared to help the students when they are here at Teton Science Schools and doing water quality monitoring.”

What are you looking forward to the most about retirement?
“I look forward to having weekends off in the winter to go cross country skiing. I look forward to backpacking too (in warmer weather). I am excited to re-connect with friends that I do not get to see very often now.”

Anything else you’d like to share?
“I have seen great progression in the teaching styles at the Jackson Campus since I started bringing students. These instructors have great questioning and instructional styles, and I really enjoy watching the students connect to these instructors and their styles of teaching. Students often say that ‘mom and dad made me come’ and ‘I don’t really know my classmates’ when they arrive. Afterwards, they say ‘I’m so glad I came!’ and ‘I know my friends so much better now.’
The first time I came to the Jackson Campus, the students had been calling the experience ‘Teton Science Camp’. When we pulled up to campus and the students saw ‘Teton Science Schools’, they thought I had tricked them. They had an amazing time and a change of heart about what school could be.”

Cheers to all that Pat has accomplished for her students over her career! We are hopeful that Pat will return as a chaperone in the future with the Saratoga 8th grade students! She's pictured with her students during their visit (above). She's in the back row, 4th from the right.