Amundsen High Teacher Natalia Sikora

A Chicago Public Schools alum, Amundsen High School science teacher Natalia Sikora knew she wanted to be a CPS teacher since 10th grade. She credits her own wonderful high school experience and, in particular, an opportunity to be “teacher for the day.” After that, Natalia was sold.

Natalia is entering her third year of teaching and partnering with Lumity. In a recent conversation with us, she recounted her top 4 reasons why she feels the partnership is so beneficial to her students and her teaching. 

  1. The relationships.  

“During the height of the pandemic, it was amazing to see how the relationships students built with Lumity staff during online schooling transferred over to in-person learning. You could tell which students had previous exposure to the Lumity program because they were really growing socially and emotionally. The Lumity facilitators give students a touch point and another adult to relate to—people who can help mentor them through learning science. Lumity pushes students to do more, and they want to do more because of their relationships with the facilitators. 

2. STEM college exposure.  

“During our trip to the Northwestern University labs last year, I saw kids who were not interested in college become really engaged. They saw these incredible labs, they learned about what PhD and Master’s programs offer, they walked around campus, and they started to see the possibilities. One of the scientists shared his experience in the lab, noting that the lab allows him to explore his interests, but that he also must manage his time. These are the exact skills—self-direction, and staying on task—that Lumity works on with our students. The importance of those skills was being reinforced by the scientist.”

3. STEM career exposure

“I love that Lumity exposes students to STEM careers—even some I’ve never heard of. It’s awesome for students to see the options. We had one STEM professional who spoke to students virtually, and it was so powerful. He is the first generation, and he walked us through his job and the nontraditional routes he took to his career, including the fact that he thought he would take one path and ended up taking another one.”

4. Hands-on STEM activities

“I really appreciate that Lumity’s STEM activities help to reinforce students’ learning of the Next Generation Science Standards. Lumity uses hands-on models with students, and the tasks help students to think critically. Any time students get to do hands-on work and manipulate things, they absolutely love it. Lumity’s approach not only engages my kids, but it also influences how I teach some of my material now also.”