A teacher’s first year experience


Maria Fonvielle

Rebecca Howsmon joins staff this year, equipped to teach genetics, biology and systems medicine.

Xander Howarth, Staff Reporter

Dr. Rebecca Howsmon has spent her whole life fascinated by science, setting her on a path to be a science teacher at BHS. However, she hasn’t always been teaching high school science. 

“I worked at Fred Hutch Cancer Research Institute prior to my PhD,” Howsmon said. “And then I worked at Seattle Children’s Research Institute to study autoimmune diseases.”

Howsmon has a background ranging from working at Microsoft, to helping support students who are interested in STEM fields, to working at the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) where she developed curriculums, led programs and helped train teachers.

Howsmon then came to BHS, where she teaches genetics, biology and systems medicine. Systems medicine is a new course offered here, one that Howsmon helped usher in.

“At ISB, one of [my/our] primary focuses is on systems medicine,” Howsmon said. “Medicine that is predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory.”

It was there that she realized she wanted to bring it here to educate students about healthcare and how different communities face a variety of challenges in the healthcare system.

Now, she is glad that she can teach it to students as well as offer a different approach to learning science.

“One thing I love about it is that the class incorporates art into just about everything we do,” Howsmon said. “And this really helps to show students that art has a place in science, allowing them to express their ideas in a more tangible way.”

In the class, students read research articles, participate in labs and create art projects. In the future, Howsmon would hope to include field trips into the curriculum.

Nearing the end of second semester, Howsmon’s first year at the school is speedily wrapping up, and she reflects on her experiences throughout the year.

“One thing I’ve noticed across all my classes is that there seems to be a rich interest and knowledge base within the STEM fields,” Howsmon said.

Besides what she has noticed on a student level, Howsmon shares how she feels about the school’s atmosphere.

“There’s a rich community here,” Howsmon said. “I’ve enjoyed going to sporting events, performing arts events and the different functions that are happening around school.”

A community she has threaded herself into, becoming a piece in the school’s frame that helps it tick. A community that has welcomed her and is glad she is here. 

Ava Boyd, a freshman in Howsmon’s first period biology class, enjoys the structure of the class.

“Dr. Rebecca is a chill teacher,” Boyd said. “We do a lot of projects in that class, which I love.”

Danni Rosenfeldt, also a freshman, is in Howsmon’s second period biology class, and feels that  Howsmon is great at handling classroom situations.

“My period is really uncooperative, but Dr. Howsmon is a really hard working teacher and she patiently deals with the students who are acting uncooperative,” Rosenfeldt said.

After a year at the school, Howsmon hopes to continue to encourage students to have deeper understandings of different sciences.

“I hope I am doing and helping students to see how the things that we’re doing in class connect to their everyday lives,” Howsmon said. “So they can make those deeper connections and be a little bit more engaged in the material even if it’s not exactly what they want to do.”