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Editor’s note: The Variety is presenting this inspiring teacher profile as part of the celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week.
TEACHER Appreciation Week from May 7 to 11 is celebrated on Guam and the rest of the U.S. In recognition of all teachers who have gone beyond the academic requirements of the classroom, the Variety is featuring teachers who have provided that extra effort to reach out and inspire their students to aspire for success.
Colette Beausoliel has been with John F. Kennedy High School for 19 years. Prior to accepting a teaching position at JFK, she taught in Inarajan High School for four years.
She graduated from the University of Arizona in Tucson with a science degree and did not plan to become a teacher at first. After considering the employment opportunities for secondary science teachers in Arizona, she enrolled in a post-baccalaureate program.
Beausoliel currently handles physics honors and the robotics class at JFK. She has been under the radar most of her teaching years on Guam. Not a lot of people know that she pioneered robotics in the high school and had written the curriculum that was ultimately adopted and approved by the Guam Education Board last fall.
Through Beausoliel’s efforts, robotics has been officially included in the Guam Department of Education curriculum.
Once the course was introduced, a high number of JFK students showed an interest in attending the robotics class. Beausoliel said the students enjoy creating programming codes and experimenting with electronics in her class.
Her class projects include requiring the students to wire sensors, and program the movement of a robot that they have constructed. Part of the project requires the robot to go through a maze filled with obstructions via sensors and coded movement. Students are not allowed to handle or remotely control the robot.
“It expands that interest in technology and it shows them how it’s a lot more fun to write a computer program and have their robots behave in some particular manner rather than play a video game or playing game. They are finding that it is a lot more fun to be the creator of the content rather than just the consumer of the content,” she explained.
Through Beausoliel’s mentorship, JFK students were able to compete at the Real World Design Challenge. The prestigious competition provides a venue for teams of high school students to think of solutions to real engineering problems. In January this year, JFK teams won second and fourth place during the regional Real World Design Challenge.
Beausoliel said some of her students have been inspired to go into different engineering fields even prior to implementing the robotics curriculum.
She cited the example of one of her students, Francis Taitano Smith, who pursued a career in aerospace engineering. Smith began his career with NASA working on the space shuttle program. He is now employed by the Federal Aviation Administration.
“There are students showing interest in computer science just because of the computing that they have done in this class. It’s opening up a lot of possible career avenues for students,” Beausoliel stated.
Beausoliel intends to continue teaching on Guam for many years. She said working with students has been both wonderful and rewarding.