Middle School

Kim Lindsay, Math

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is truly an honor to be asked to be a part of the Terra Verde team. Although I have been teaching for 24 years, I took a somewhat unconventional route getting into education. I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. My first job after graduating was working for a non-profit education organization, and I felt drawn to teaching. I took the classes needed to be certified, and soon found myself staring into the eyes of a classroom full of fifth graders at an inner-city elementary school in Dallas. That first year teaching truly was trial by fire. Although it was difficult, I learned so much. I stayed for four years, looping up to sixth grade the last year I was there.

While in Dallas, I met my husband Chad, a diehard Sooner living in Texas. We married in 1996 and decided to move to Norman in 1997. I was offered a job at Kennedy Elementary, where I taught second through fourth grades. In 2003 my principal approached me about the prospect of interviewing for the math resource teacher position at Kennedy, a newly-created position. I love teaching math, so I jumped on the chance. While a math resource teacher, I was able to see the development of and connection among math skills from kindergarten through fifth grade. In 2013 my principal asked me to teach a section of sixth grade math to advanced fifth graders. I did, and it reignited a desire to teach a class of my own. I decided I wanted to teach math beyond the elementary level. In the fall 2014 I began my journey at Longfellow Middle School, teaching seventh grade math, pre-algebra, and algebra.

I strive to make my classroom one in which students can explore mathematical concepts by connecting to concepts they already know, explaining their thinking to others, and looking for patterns across mathematical concepts. By giving students the freedom to explore, mistakes are a part of the process. Some of the best growth comes through analyzing what does not work in order to figure out what does work. I make my classroom a safe place in which students can take risks. My greatest joy is when students are sharing strategies, and they are so involved and engaged, I do not have to say a word, because they are teaching each other.

Outside the classroom, most of my time is spent traveling to various baseball and soccer fields throughout the area, cheering for my son, a catcher with the NHS baseball team and for my daughter, a competitive and enthusiastic soccer player.

Hunter Woolum – Social Studies

“It’s not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren’t doing it.” – Sir Terry Pratchett

Terra Verde invited me to teach Social Studies in 2016, and it has been an incredible experience! I graduated from the University of Oklahoma here in Norman with a Bachelor of Arts in Classics and Letters in 2015, and while teaching may be new for me, I have lots of experience working with kids of various ages, which I feel translates very naturally into the field of education.

The Liberal Arts, with the diversity and internal fluidity of its component fields, has always held my fascination, and the chance to impart a similar love of learning to the students at Terra Verde is an honor.

The middle school Social Studies curriculum, touching as it does on subjects as varied as geography, history, literature, sociology, and anthropology, is the way in which many children experience their first, in-depth exposure to the complexity and beauty of our world and its many, unique cultures. I believe it is my job as an educator to use that opportunity to encourage genuine intellectual curiosity, not merely through lectures and memorization, but by helping children learn to analyze socio-cultural concepts for themselves. And, lest all of that seem overly serious and academic, I also believe that true learning takes place while having fun, so expect your children to answer questions like: “What would your favorite fictional character (like Harry Potter or Princess Leia) look like if they came from feudal Japan?”

I live in Norman with my significant other and fellow life-long learner, Erika, as well as our two sweet cats, Zada and Boudica. I love to read (Terry Pratchett is my favorite author, mythology my favorite genre, and Batman my favorite comic book), and spend much of my free time conlanging (that’s making invented languages, for those not in the know). I am proficient in written and spoken French, as well as written and spoken Latin.

Every year brings new opportunities to teach the wonderfully bright students here at Terra Verde, and in equal measure, to learn a lot myself!

Gina Fowler – Spanish

“Language is a road map of a culture.  It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.”  -Rita Mae Brown

My professional story actually begins with the influence of a teacher.  I was fortunate to have studied under an amazing instructor in high school who instilled in me a love for both the culture and language of Spanish-speaking countries.  After four years of high school, I completed my Bachelor’s of Science degree in Spanish Education from the University of Oklahoma in December , 1995.  The following summer, I traveled to Mexico City and Puebla, Mexico to live with a local family and continue my studies first-hand in the country,

Certified pre-K through 12th grade, I have taught at multiple grade levels in Oklahoma:  High school and middle school in Jones; elementary in Cashion and three Norman schools; and pre-K/Kindergarten at Gingerbread Nursery.  At each stop, I have incorporated a casual classroom atmosphere with TPR a top priority.  I believe learning a second language will be vital for each child’s future, and open a world of opportunity in this increasingly global society.  My greatest satisfaction comes in watching students take ownership in language that is no longer “foreign” to them.

I grew up in Oklahoma City, but immediately fell in love with Norman while attending college here.  My husband, Brian, and I met during those years, and we have remained a part of Norman since our marriage began in July, 1997.  We have three children:  Nolan, a junior at Norman High School; and Addison and Easton, twins, who are 7th graders at Irving Middle School.  While Nolan is very active in ice hockey and on the drums, Brian and I are also joining him on prospective visits to college campuses across the region.  Addison and Easton, while alike in many ways, have a variety of different interests as well-Easton with golf and guitar and Addison as a national champion competitive cheerleader.

Personally, my family is my life and I love spending time watching hockey games, band gigs, and competitive cheerleading and tumbling events.  I also enjoy traveling, shopping, coffee on the patio and eating out with family and friends.  When not in the classroom, I can usually be found in a gym teaching tumbling, coaching the Norman High cheer squad and local competitive all-star squads, or assisting with my husband’s home-building business.  I have been richly blessed and am very excited to be a part of the Terra Verde family!

Stephanie Molchan – Latin

” Like it or not, we either add to the darkness of indifference and out-and-out evil which surrounds us, or we light a candle to see by.” Madeline L’Engle

I have just retired from twenty-one years of teaching Latin at the secondary level. For the last fourteen years, I taught at Edmond North High School. I was the unofficial district coordinator of the Latin programs, and from 2011-2014, the official co-chair of my building’s foreign language department.

In addition to those responsibilities, I found myself drawn into the world of foreign language teaching associations. I have been a member of the Oklahoma Foreign Language Teachers Association for the duration of my career. I served on the executive board of OFLTA from 2009-2012, as well as representing them at the Southwest Council on the Teaching of Languages conference in my role as teacher of the year in 2010. I attended the national conferences(American Council on the Teaching of Languages) in 2011 and 2013 in Denver and Orlando.

Being the Latin Club sponsor of my students meant that I annually joined the American Classical League. I presented at their national conference in 2008. From 2009-2013, I was co-chair of the Oklahoma Junior Classical League. In conjunction with my responsibilities at OKJCL, I attended the National Junior Classical League conventions in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014.

The teaching of Latin changed drastically between 1984 and 2002, the years I was occupied with my young family. When I returned to teaching, I found that Latin teachers were connecting across the nation and even the world. I became excited about the possibilities. My school district, Edmond Public Schools, was generous in providing local opportunities for professional development that was up-to-date and even innovative. I will always be grateful for their support. Through those training events and the ongoing training provided by OFLTA and by Cambridge Latin itself, I developed my skills rapidly. Through the loving acceptance and encouragement of the students and parents at EPS, I began to enjoy my work as I never thought possible. Every day of work for the last fourteen years has been a pleasure. My students came to school ready to learn, and responded overwhelmingly to my efforts to transfer what was in my brain to theirs! I believe several of them surpassed me in Latin reading ability, which is a teacher’s dream.
I love connecting with my students, and seeing them make the connection between Latin, the Romans, and their own world. We know so much now about how best to teach language, and I am challenged to continually improve my own skills in the best practices of teaching for proficiency. There is never a time when a teacher feels she has put the finishing touches on her craft, and I look forward to studying and learning along with my new students. I also look forward to being part of the sixth grade team, which seems to be populated by stars!

My family is a very high priority, as you might guess. I spend as much time as I can with my wonderful husband, Michael, my two daughters and their families, and my son. I spend two weeks every summer in North Carolina with my brother and his darling family. Right now it is football season, and I am squeezing time for my family in between the big games. Well, it’s almost that bad. Michael and I love to watch the Sooners and America’s Team, from our easy chairs, of course. I don’t have time for a hobby, really, but my husband is a fantastic photographer, and I am looking forward to promoting some exhibitions of his work. I am active in my church, just not as much as I used to be. You’ll probably find me reading and studying when I should be housecleaning. But you are welcome to contact me anytime, for any reason. Your children are very important to me.

 Hollis Pearsall – Language Arts

It’s seriously a dream come true to join the Terra Verde Family. To say I’m grateful seems like an understatement. My passion for teaching began as a child. While most kids were playing house or video games, I was taking attendance and reading short stories to my stuffed animals. Equipped with old school textbooks, I’m confident in saying I had the smartest Cabbage Patch Kids around.

After student teaching at Whittier Middle School in Norman, I joined the faculty as an 8th grade English teacher. Since we are lifelong learners, I continued for my Masters in Instructional Leadership in 2008 and went through the process of attaining National Board Certification in 2010. For eight years, I experienced teaching 8th grade English and Yearbook, co-sponsoring the Community Service Involvement Club, leading my core team for six years and 8th grade team for two. I also had the honor of being Whittier’s Teacher of the Year in 2010 and a finalist for the district. Most importantly, I spent time with amazing teenagers.

Outside of the classroom, my family is my world. In 2010, I married my best friend, Josh and since then, we’ve welcomed to the world two adorable little gifts, Alayna and Joseph. I must admit, I know I’ve said I never had favorite students, but these two have claimed that role permanently. In my (rare) free time, you can find me reading, crocheting, searching for the best mocha, gardening, working on remodeling our house, or watching football (huge Steelers fan here).

I am eager to continue my passion for teaching, learning, and English here at Terra Verde and look forward to working with all of you.

Steve Gunnels – Science

There comes a time in one’s life when their path becomes clearly marked. This was evident when I found out there was a middle school science position available at Terra Verde. My experience with Terra Verde has been a discovery of the richest fount of positive energy I have experienced in one place and I am thrilled to now be a part of that fount.

My scientific journey began at Texas A&M University. My Bachelor’s degree is in Bio- environmental Science. My degree plan consisted of a wide collection of science courses like soil microbiology, microbial ecology, environmental remediation, and many more. During college I was employed at the Texas A&M Water Laboratory. where I helped set up the lab (inventory and safety equipment) and run experiments for Master’s and Doctoral students. I enjoy watching the Discovery Channel, NOVA and other similar programs . My degree plan was so much fun that it reminds me of one four-year television show.

Before graduation I interviewed and accepted an offer from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality in the Water Quality Division. I spent the next 15 years working in the industrial waste water pollution section. I saw fascinating industrial processes across Oklahoma.

The past 2 years I have been an 8th grade and 6th grade science teacher for Irving Middle School here in Norman. Teaching has taught me about the patience and planning needed to encourage students to want to succeed. It has also shown me that there is not one template for learning or evaluating students. While I know I will have different students and different challenges at Terra Verde, I am excited to begin another chapter of exploration and discovery in science with them.

I am married to Dr. Randa Shehab, who is an engineer by training and the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for the College of Engineering at OU. We have two sons, Cooper (15) and Mason (11). Cooper is a freshman at Norman High and Mason will be a 6th grader here at Terra Verde.

In my free time I enjoy running, skateboarding, playing guitar, and learning science. My teams are Texas A&M Aggies, Detroit Tigers, Red Wings, Lions, and F.C. Bayern.