Interviewer: What is your name?
Laura: Laura Cunningham.
Interviewer: What is your position at CSA?
Laura: I am the Associate Director of Science.
Interviewer: What does that position entail?
Laura: I work with people to create science content. I also work with clients to understand their needs and with different types of experts in science to fulfill those needs.
Interviewer: How did you become a part of CSA?
Laura: I was working at another educational publisher, and we typically worked closely with a certain vendor like CSA. I had a close working relationship with a couple of people at that vendor, and they heard about the Executive Editor in Science position and referred me.
Interviewer: So, friends helping friends.
Interviewer: What is the best part of your job?
Laura: Working with people from all types of experiences and locations, [with all kinds of] goals. I enjoy working with diverse people with diverse backgrounds.
Interviewer: What do you wish people knew about your work at CSA?
Laura: Every day is not the same. There are different challenges every day, different ways of thinking about how to overcome those challenges, and many ways to be creative and problem solve.
Interviewer: What do you wish schools focused on more in terms of education and why?
Laura: I think “inquiry-based learning,” across all subject areas, not just science. It allows students to figure things out on their own, rather than being told by their teacher. Part of learning is making mistakes, realizing the mistake, and correcting it. That’s how I think students learn best and grow.
Interviewer: A lot of schools still teach “failure is failure.”
Laura: I think there should be opportunities for revision, not necessarily for failure! We want to have a chance for students to correct mistakes and learn from them. Inquiry-based [learning] is not only applicable to science, but it lends itself best to science.
Interviewer: What are three interesting facts about you?
Laura: I love to travel, and I am really missing that right now. The farthest I have been [from home] is Fiji. Now, that was a trip! Two plane rides to get there, then a car to a ferry that went up and down an island chain, and then another boat to the resort. Second fact is that I have a scholarship fund that I established a few years ago. I provide scholarships to first-generation college students. I have donated three of them so far. Third is I used to work as a part-time dog trainer at PetSmart to pay for my master’s degree! I would teach my students during the day, and then I would have to change into my PetSmart uniform, train dogs, and then change back into my regular clothes to go to grad class. Thankfully, that was only once a week, but I did that for about two years!
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