Staff Spotlight: Karmen Pierce and Creating Change in Jacksonville, One Step at a Time.

Down in Jacksonville, Florida, one of our amazing science teachers is making waves of impact for her students through great class management practices, fun curriculum programs, and the creation of a co-ed step team.  











When Ms. Karmen Pierce was around the same age as her students, she was labeled as an “atrisk” student. As part of a dropout prevention group, all eyes were on her, heavily monitoring her behavior and academic performance. When she transferred to a magnet school in middle school, everything started to change for her, she continued to flourish in the classroom. What created that change? Karmen’s response: more opportunities outside the classroom and course work that ignites a good challenge.  


Classroom Engagement: From Start to Finish

That drive to help students in the classroom is one of the main reasons she decided to pursue teaching opportunities. Since October when she joined IDEA Public Schools, Ms. Pierce has had such an impact on her students at IDEA River Bluff. She sets the tone early on in her class, ensuring learning happens from “bell to bell. From class start to end, she makes sure students stay active and engaged. Her experiences in school growing up showed her that when she had engaging activities and assignments to do, this helped her stay focused.  When it comes to teaching the course material, Ms. Pierce always finds a way to make it relatable to what’s going on around her students. One of the benefits of teaching with IDEA, Karmen finds, is that she can be more creative with her teaching style and curriculum. She’s introduced a program to her students called “Flocabulary”, where students can learn course material through the lyrics of hip-hop songs. The program covers many subjects and has been a hit with her students.  


From the Dancefloor to the Classroom

Outside the classroom, Ms. Pierce has continued to bring new programs to get students involved, one of them being a campus co-ed step team. She has noticed a change in her students, and not just in their rhythm.

“It gives them motivation, a reason to want to do better in the classroom. It teaches them discipline too, and their behaviors in the classroom are starting to turn around more.”

The step team boosts academic performance and allows for a bonding experience between the students. It creates friendship and community, as they find commonality within each other for their love of step. Most importantly, the team fosters accountability, as Ms. Pierce reminds her students, “all for one and one for all.”  


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