Sierra Flynn is the new STEM teacher at Sonoma Academy. This semester she teaches Human Anatomy & Physiology and two sections of Biology. She attended undergraduate and graduate school at UC Berkeley where she double majored in Integrative Biology and Conservation Resource Studies. This is her fourth year teaching in a classroom setting, and she also taught outdoor education for three years.
Flynn grew up in California in a tiny town called Coarsegold, a mining town in the foothills of the Central Valley. She then moved to the East Bay for college and hasn’t left since.
Flynn went to a small public charter high school in Fresno. “Now that I think of it,” she said, there’s a lot of overlap between SA and there. I was pretty dorky, being into school and my friend group. I had a great time, and I still talk to them today.”
Before beginning her year at Sonoma Academy, Flynn taught previously at Oakland Technical High School, a public school in Oakland. There she taught 9th-grade Biology for three years. She never envisioned herself as a teacher; as an undergraduate majoring in Biology, she thought she was interested in being a researcher while working in a lab. It was not until two or three years after graduating college that she discerned she wanted to be in the field of education.
She took a position as a garden teacher and immediately went to grad school for it. Flynn said, “I realized it’s pretty lonely working in a lab all day. I like science, but I like teaching more.” Her inspiration to educate was her first boss at an outdoor education school. “He really showed how caring a lot about a concept can excite students and get them interested in something they may have not realized. He definitely fueled that transition.”
Flynn took Anatomy in college, and when she was interviewing for Sonoma Academy one of the questions that came up was about potential courses she could teach. Although she has never taught Anatomy before, she took the job opportunity. Her favorite thing about Human Anatomy is the nervous system. “I think it’s interesting in the way we communicate with our bodies and how information travels. Similar to the endocrine, learning about how something so tiny can have a huge impact on your mood, emotions, and hunger level fascinates me. I think I just love learning about how human bodies work because we live in them every day. Even just a slightly deeper understanding of how they work helps us understand ourselves better.”
Flynn is still adjusting to being at Sonoma Academy since she had taken a year off from teaching. So far, she’s been enjoying getting to know her students and the faculty. “Everyone is fun to work with, plus the location of SA is phenomenal. People really want to be here, which is incredible. Everyone is good at being themselves, and I really appreciate that.”
The weirdest thing that’s happened to her at SA was that during class one of her students ran up a hill to chase some turkeys. Her favorite days at the GAC are Tuesday and Thursday, sandwich days. Flynn adores eating sandwiches and cookies. “I’m a fan of ‘choosing your own adventure’ lunch. I think it shows how much I like control, for better or for worse.”
She hopes to become an even better teacher and an important person in the SA community. “I think that’s something really special here, in that it’s very community-oriented. I feel like I have the time and the support for being a better teacher, which ultimately affects my students.”
Her greatest accomplishment in teaching so far is building great relationships with her students so that they communicate very well. Some of her favorite hobbies include baking, running, surfing, and socializing. She usually surfs in Santa Cruz or Bolinas, and has gone once to Dillon Beach. In her spare time, she especially loves spending time with her friends and family.
If she wasn’t a STEM teacher , she said, she would be a baker or baking teacher because she enjoys learning about food. Her go-to baked goods are rye chocolate chip cookies and sourdough bread. In fact, she’s even shared her favorite cookie recipe with us for anyone who would like to enjoy them at home!