Katherine O’Fallon, the Marine Science Magnet Coordinator at New River Middle School in Fort Lauderdale, FL has been sharing her passion for Marine Science and education since she began her teaching career in 2006. As a Marine Biologist working in the field, she discovered that her passion was not in the research, but in sharing her knowledge with future generations. She learned early on in her career that her greatest joy came from watching a child discover their passion for marine science and sharing with others. As a classroom teacher, her students were inspired by her passion and knowledge.
When Katie became the Magnet Coordinator almost nine years ago, she was able to have larger impact in the school and the community. The community partnerships she has cultivated such as Guy Harvey Inc., who designed their school logo, have strengthened their relationships, school exposure and more importantly, opportunities for students in the marine field and industry in South Florida. Her goal is to inspire her students to get involved in their backyard, learn about the marine environment and then get involved. By exposing NRMS students to marine and environmental issues in their classroom, it fosters stewardship and encourages students to be proactive in preserving and protecting our local habitats.
New River Middle School encourages involvement in the community with their annual International Coastal Clean-up and BBQ along with Marine Industries Waterway Clean up. As magnet coordinator, Katie, also organized a variety of field experiences for students to get out in the marine field with snorkeling trips in Fort Lauderdale and the Keys, kayaking through the mangroves, canoeing at Jonathan Dickinson State Park, trips to Miami Seaquarium, state park educational activities and visits to the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show and Resolve Marine Academy.
Every year, Katie also ensures that students participate in the Plywood Regatta, where teams build and race boats with Marine Industries Association of South Florida. Because of Katie, New River Middle School received the Magnet School of Distinction for the five years along with becoming a Nationally Certified Magnet School. Katie has also been instrumental in NRMS being recognized as the Broward County P3 (Preserving or Planet for Posterity) Eco-Challenge over the last six years. She works tirelessly writing grants and finding resources so that more of her students have the opportunities to get out into the marine environment and be involved in the ever-growing world of science engineering including the very popular Marine ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicles) course along with new opportunities including Engineering & Design, Robotics, and Entrepreneurship.
She wants her students to be exposed to all facets of the marine field from the environmental and biological to the maritime and engineering side of the yachting industry. She prepares her students for their future, pushes them to pursue their passion and inspirations. No matter where their future takes them, NRMS students will have a deep passion and appreciation for their backyard of South Florida and continue to help preserve and protect it because of what they learned from Katie and New River Middle School Marine Science Magnet.