Meet CCBS Science Teacher, Sam Taylor

by | May 16, 2024 | Learning Community, CCBS Team | 0 comments

Teaching CCBS Style |  ‘Meet the Teachers’ Series

At CCBS, we celebrate our teachers year-round! We invite you to learn more about “Teaching CCBS Style” in our blog feature where we highlight each of our teachers and their approach to making a difference in the lives of our CCBS students.

Sam Taylor, Science Teacher, at Cherokee Creek Boys School

If you step into the Science classroom on the 2nd floor of the CCBS lodge, you will find Sam Taylor, our Science Teacher.

Sam joined the CCBS team in 2015. For four years, he was a part of the Treks team and then he became our Science and Environmental Studies Teacher. Sam brings a wealth of experience and credentials including Environmental Interpretation Studies for teaching grades 5 – 12 from Georgia Southern University, he is SC Adopt a Stream Certified (for Chemical, Bacterial and Macroinvertebrate testing), Project WILD and WILD Aquatic Certification, Project Learning Tree and even has a Certificate as a Beekeeper! He also is an American Heart Association CPR and First Aid Instructor, a Wilderness First Responder, and a volunteer for the US Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service and at Bird Banding Stations. 

When you enter the science room, you can tell Sam believes in hands-on learning that is interesting and fun! The first thing that catches your attention may be three shelves full of “science” knick knacks, including wildlife artifacts, a shadow box of bird feathers, turtle shells, a coral sponge, dried-out flowers, parts of plants, some rodent “skeletons, a random fish skull and some big pine cones!

Or maybe you’ll notice the aquarium / cage that is home to two rescue snakes, Cinnamon and Sticky. No, they are not there to scare anyone, … they play an important role in teaching a lesson about wildlife and an important life lesson in general.

“We talk about what we think snakes are like and how most people find them scary. Then we go deeper and learn that if you are near a snake that likely makes them scared. But unlike other animals, a snake can’t yell or bark to alert you to move away! So they may be forced to attack or lunge in your direction making them look extra aggressive and scary. So we observe Cinnamon and Sticky in their aquarium, watch their behavior, and learn more about different types of snakes and animals. The bottom line is that when we come across an animal (or a person) that we don’t know much about, we may be afraid of them or discount them. The snakes help teach us that we should take the time to learn about or get to know animals (and people) that we don’t know and not make assumptions!”

Sam believes in experiential learning in the classroom and going outside to learn. At CCBS, you may see students hiking over the hill to our off-campus area called the Koblick property where the boys play sports, enjoy disc golf and get to be out in nature. If you see the Science class over there, they are also likely participating in a real-life habitat restoration project.

Sam shared the story of how this project started and what the boys learn from it.

“A while ago when we took the boys to the Koblick property, I noticed that the landscaping crews were making sure the property was well kept, but in the process, they were also making it not conducive to natural vegetation. I asked our leadership if we could instruct the landscape crew to avoid certain areas so we could use it as an outdoor learning lab, and they agreed!

Our restoration project focuses on the natural vegetation that forms a bank along the creek to maintain the health of the creek. We started testing water quality, monitoring temperature, oxygen, chemicals and health of the stream. As we restored the natural vegetation around it, our testing showed improvements in the health of the creek and the quality of the entire ecosystem. This also leads to more shade and helps to contain the creek better during rain storms. It’s one thing to tell students that our actions impact the ecosystem … it’s another to play a hands-on role in nurturing it, tracking progress and seeing the impact firsthand.

We also explore how the plants and vegetation change even within a few miles! A few miles up the road, the vegetation includes mountain variety plants and in the other direction, we find plants that are more like the vegetation we find south of us.

If we want to help people understand the impact we have on the ecosystem, then a hands-on environmental science class should be a required curriculum everywhere. It’s incredible learning to go outside, observe, monitor and be a part of keeping the environment healthy and thriving. And, it’s great to see the boys excited, engaged and interested in learning.

Our CCBS Academic Director, Calvin Croxton said, ‘When a student arrives at CCBS, it’s not unusual for them to be doing poorly in school, saying they can’t stand school and often have no interest in learning. We follow the Gurian model which emphasizes allowing boys to learn the way they like to learn, and for most boys, that means being active and as experiential as possible.’

Our Science class is a great example of this style of learning. Many boys arrive with a minimal interest in science, and when they leave they have a new appreciation for it and many even say it is their favorite class!”

Thanks, Sam for inspiring our students to learn about science and to take care of the environment by learning “Cherokee Creek Style.”