Combining art and science comes naturally to Bishop Noll Institute teacher Jennifer Gwiazda who has spent most of her life entrenched in both worlds.
“People have always found my combination of art and science unusual but for me it is very natural,” said Gwiazda, who teaches biology and art at Noll in addition to sponsoring the Art Club.
“I encourage my students to doodle in their notebooks in biology class - it has always helped me stay focused and on task. Many labs and projects that I assign in biology involve drawing what you see or sketching out a plan for an experiment. In art class I find myself incorporating science and math concepts quite a bit as well.”
Gwiazda said she was always “nerdy” and loved to learn. She knew early on that she wanted to be a high school teacher.
“I found that I liked most classes I had, but particularly loved both science and art classes. To be perfectly honest, my heart was leaning toward teaching art, but my brain told me that teaching science would be a safer choice - science jobs are always in demand.”
The TF North grad pursued a degree in secondary education biology at DePaul University where she continued to enjoy science and art.
“I took as many art classes as I could squeeze in my schedule and brought my love of art into my non-art courses. For example, when I had to do a presentation for BIO 103 on baleen whale adaptations, I painted a baleen whale to include as a visual in my presentation.”
After graduation and student teaching, Gwiazda taught science at Seton Academy in South Holland. Due to a last minute staff change, she also ended up teaching an art class at the school.
“That first art class became my favorite class to teach – Ceramics. I love working with clay and it became one of the most popular courses offered at Seton - so much so that I eventually had to develop a Ceramics II curriculum.”
After Seton closed, Gwiazda came to Bishop Noll.
“High school is where I belong and BNI is home! I love it here. I'm so excited to teach both science and art again and to be using both sides of my brain and getting to know students as they progress in two very different subjects. A student who might be shy in science class might blossom in art class, and vice versa.”
Bishop Noll Institute continues its drive to become the first elite STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, art and math) school in Indiana and earlier this school year announced plans for a state-of-the-art STREAM Lab and Innovation Center with a goal of opening for classes in Fall 2019.
The $1 million-plus project will consist of a learning studio and design lab, the Makerspace for hands-on work and creating prototypes based on original designs; and a prototype studio to build models and use larger equipment as students build final products for display.
For more information, visit bishopnoll.org.