Our Inspired Teachers: Mariam Higgins

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Every day Catlin Gabel teachers inspire their students. 16 faculty members talk about how they came to teaching—and what they love about their craft

 From the Autumn 2012 Caller

Mariam Higgins, 4th grade

Bachelor’s in medical illustration, Ohio State University School of Medicine. Master’s in teaching, Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling. At CGS since 2006.


They call it an “encore career.”
After 15 years as a medical illustrator, I discovered another, consuming, passion: education. While finishing the illustrations for a textbook on managing fractures for primary care providers, I volunteered in my children’s classrooms. I was going to bed every night thinking about the students whose learning I was a small part of every week. I coached soccer, taught art, chaperoned, tutored, and eventually, after an exciting campaign, was elected to the school board.
So approaching 40, I went back to school, earning an MA in teaching with an emphasis in math, science, and technology. I embraced the constructivist, progressive approach, which valued differentiating and problem solving. I’ve had the good fortune to teach in rural, urban, and suburban communities, ages four to adult, from open-air math classes in an impoverished country, to integrating the arts in teaching at a beautiful graduate school.
This is my seventh year teaching 4th grade at Catlin Gabel. What I’ve found is a place where creating curriculum and teaching children is the most fulfilling and creative endeavor possible.
What truly thrills is being part of constant discovery and curiosity. Fourth graders are wide-eyed, empathetic, and very flexible thinkers. Sparks really fly when our particular fascinations cross: biology, art, being active outdoors, and environmental stewardship. I am so thankful to be a part of constant change, positive energy, commitment to intellectual rigor, and a balanced approach to lifelong learning and well being.
My job as an educator keeps me young, gives me grey hair, makes me laugh, scratch my head, try harder, figure it out, and connect. Coming into my classroom each day I feel a sense of peace, purpose, and joy. Teaching fills me up while giving back. What could be better?