Ms. Groh on her high school plays, following bands, and secret love of Leonardo da Vinci.
When you enter her room, it is clear that she is not your everyday teacher. Thousands of creepy-crawly insects inhabit her shelves, giant posters of every organism from amoebas to hydras to cheetahs line her walls, and you wouldn’t be surprised to find dissections at her lab counters. She is the most user-friendly insect encyclopedia you will ever meet. She is Broadneck’s mad scientist. She is Ms. Groh, the Zoology teacher. Ms. Groh is the teacher to see for all creatures that crawl, slither, swim, and walk. But what does Ms. Groh do outside the realms of the lab?
Maggie: What is your educational background? (High school, college?) What was the most exciting class you took?
Groh: I went to high school at Old Mill, and I got a bachelor’s degree from Thiel College in Greenville, Pennsylvania— a very small college. My major was in biology, and I went to the University of Maryland, College Park— no— Baltimore Campus, and I got a master’s degree in secondary education. I got certified to teach chemistry and biology for grades 7 through 12.
M: Wow. And what was the most exciting class you took there?
G: I loved Spanish— I took as much Spanish as I could. And Latin. I really liked English too, and I liked art. And then in college you really, really just get into your major. I liked stat, art, and my biology class especially, and then entomology— you know that I like bugs.
M: Yes, of course. Were you a part of any clubs in high school?
G: I was in AFS, which is the American Field Society, where people from other countries come over and live. We had a group for them when they came over, and we hung out with them and got to know them.
M: Was it a foreign exchange program kind of thing?
G: Yes. And I was an actress, so I was in theater, and that’s where I spent most of my time.
M: Were you in plays or musicals?
G: Yes, I was in plays. I was in The Break of Noon, Hello Dolly!, dinner theater, and other little things that you do here and there. And then in college, I was also in theater, and we did Inherit the Wind, You Can’t Take It with You, and we did Charlie Brown Goes to College every single year for the freshmen coming in. And there’s probably another one that I can’t remember.
M: Did you always know that you wanted to be a zoology and forensics teacher?
G: I wanted to be a dentist, and there was no way I was ever going to be a teacher. So here I am. When I went to college, I didn’t even want to take biology, but I had to if I wanted to be a dentist. And I started tutoring everybody in different courses like stat, biology, chemistry, and English— and then I realized I should be a teacher. So that’s why I’m a teacher.
M: That goes into my next question: why did you decide to teach at the high school level?
G: I always have been able to relate to high school kids. That age group— I was always really good with talking to, and I had relatives of that age. Or I think I’ve been able to relate to that age group.
M: What are your favorite things to do when you’re not teaching?
G: I run; my daughter got me involved in that. When she was in elementary school, she was in the running program, and I had to help her.
M: Girls on the Run?
G: Girls on the Run, yes. Now I do 5Ks. And I follow two bands— one of them has a lead singer who is at the school here, so a lot of us go and see them. The same group rides bikes together— we have a biker chick clan. And I’m very social; I have a lot of friends. But that’s just all surface stuff.
M: Wow. Do you have any kids, and if so, what do you like to do with them?
G: I have one daughter, who is thirteen years old; she will be here next year!
M: And what is your favorite thing to do together?
G: We watch movies, we go for walks— we used to run, but she’s too old for that now. We shop, we go to the bookstore together, lots. We talk about social media a lot, and we study together.
M: Are you currently reading anything for enjoyment?
G: I’m reading the Annihilation trilogy. The first book is Annihilation, the second book is Authority, and the third book is something like Assimilation (it is actually Acceptance). It’s kind of sci-fi.
M: What do you like about it?
G: It has to do with biology, it has to do with how a new— I’m probably going to spoil it— entity comes into the world, and how that affects humans.
M: That sounds really interesting. Do you volunteer your time anywhere, like at any non-profit organizations?
G: Well, there’s church; I do different things at church. And I do 5Ks for different non-profits— the last one I did was for the Lighthouse Shelter. I’ve done the Interact Club / Doctors Without Borders 5K. So I usually just spend my time doing 5Ks and donating money in that way.
M: Awesome. Do you have any heros?
G: Hmm. Leonardo da Vinci.
G: Because he was a brilliant scientist and artist. He could do anything. I respect him for his intelligence and his ingenuity. And Maya Angelou, because she was just really self-introspective. And Lynn Margulis.
M: Who is that?
G: She is the scientist who thought of the Endosymbiotic Theory for evolution. She just recently passed away.
M: Oh, yes, I do know who that is. And my last question is: what is your favorite place to visit? It could be anywhere; a store, city, town, state…
G: The bookstore. And my old college. And anywhere there is nature that can be explored.
M: Alright, that’s it. Thank you so much for your answers.
G: Sure. That was fun.