HE REMEMBERS being called to teach after a star projector illuminated stars on his ceiling as a child. After seeing stars, Blake gave his parents lessons on astronomy for hours because he was intrigued by the vastness and mystery of outer space. His goal was to be like Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus show.
HE TEACHES in an age when some students struggle to go an entire period without checking their phone. So, he sees it as his challenge to keep his students engaged.
HE WAS influenced by Kathleen Biddle, professor of education at Juniata, who taught him the importance of personalizing your learning. Because of her leadership, Blake works to make his students feel seen and heard, and reminds them that their ideas matter and they matter.
HE HELPED a student attend prom, after that student's mother discovered he was struggling to pass Blake's earth science class. Blake allowed his student to make up work he had missed. In the end, the student was able to attend the prom and—together with Blake's help—wrote a thank you letter to his mom.
HE ENJOYED teaching geology in central Pennsylvania, and collaborated with Matt Powell, associate professor of geology, and Ryan Mathur '96, professor of geology, to take his students on several hunts for fossils.
HE RECALLS one specific moment from these field trips: he and his students were at the top of a mountain when one of the students asked him to lead the class through a mindfulness exercise. During that moment—when students were focusing on being intensely aware of what they were sensing—Blake had an epiphany, and he realized exactly what he wanted to do.
BLAKE UNDERSTANDS the importance of letting students get to know their teacher as a human being, and makes sure to talk to his students about his life outside the classroom to make them feel comfortable. Similarly, he lets his students be themselves and express their personalities, too.
HIS ADVICE to future teachers is to spend an entire school day with a practicing teacher—from start to finish. This will help aspiring educators learn about all the in-between tasks that have to be completed and the decisions that must be made.
HE BELIEVES that people who are willing to teach are brave, courageous, and caring, pointing out that the teachers who care and become emotionally invested are hit with emotional burnout the hardest.
BLAKE IS PURSUING his doctorate in human development and family studies at Penn State—just like Ms. Frizzle in the Netflix reboot of The Magic School Bus. He's learning how to develop mindfulness and compassion-based programs for students and teachers.