Orre pursues his passion for teaching from childhood

April 2, 2018 — by Ava Hooman and Esha Lakhotia

Reporters interview Mr. Orre to see how he came into the path of teaching.

Teaching practically runs in Biology and Anatomy/Physiology teacher Kristofer Orre’s blood — his great grandparents, grandfather, great uncle and mother were all teachers.

Orre remembers a large majority of his family as teachers since a young age, which is one of the first things that inspired him to become one himself. As a child, Orre had always taken up leadership roles and found pleasure in helping others understand new concepts, skills and responsibility.

“My natural inclination for teaching actually developed in Boy Scouts,” Orre said. “In scouting, the boys take on leadership roles, and I found myself in those positions pretty quickly.”

After high school, Orre went to to junior college at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed, Calif. He didn't really know what he wanted to do, though he had a natural attraction for science and wanted to apply his childhood inclination for leadership into his work.  

“It was in my introductory biology class when I learned about evolution that I became particularly fascinated in that subject,” Orre said. “After looking at the required courses for the Ecology and Evolution major, I knew that's what I wanted to major in.”

After graduating with his degree in Ecology and Evolution from the junior college, Orre began working on a military installation in San Clemente Island off San Diego. He wanted to make a real difference in restoring damaged ecosystems by taking action.

Although Orre enjoyed the fact that he was making a difference in protecting environments, his job was quite dangerous and hectic, with unexploded bombs and a military barrack lifestyle.

“I was working 10 days in a row, in isolation, with little job security or upward mobility,” Orre said. “It was very rewarding, but by this time it was also the first time I hadn't been ‘teaching’ in any way.”

Wanting a more stable and safe lifestyle, Orre turned to pursue his passion for teaching. He applied to UC Santa Cruz’s combined credential and Masters of Arts in Education program. After graduating, he spent first five years working at Gilroy High, where he taught Honors Biology, AP Biology and Biotechnology. Soon after, however, Orre felt it was time for a change, which is when he decided to come teach at Saratoga High after a couple years.

“For one, I was really unhappy with the administration and how they treated teachers at my previous school,” Orre said. “It wasn't a positive environment or one where I felt valued or appreciated.”

When Orre moved to Saratoga, he felt more free to develop his own style of teaching. Inspired by other teachers online, Orre’s developed a style of flipped teaching, where students take notes on concepts at home and apply that knowledge in labs at school. This has allowed him to help students apply concepts in school, rather than simply attending lectures and not learning anything from them.

“I see the role of a teacher being less of the ‘sage on the stage’ always delivering content, but more of the ‘guide on the side’ helping students make sense of content through increased labs and activities,” Orre said.  “I saw a flipped classroom as the perfect opportunity to help students apply what they were learning through labs and my increased contact with them.”

Orre currently teaches biology and anatomy/physiology. He admits that he was not interested in anatomy and physiology until about eight years ago, when he started to explore health and fitness and gradually became more curious about the human body.

With more and more years of experience teaching, Orre’s understanding of both biology and anatomy has drastically increased, creating a better learning environment for his students.

“I love being able to talk about all the different areas of biology,” Orre said. “It's such a vast and interesting subject, and I enjoy giving students exposure to all aspects of the field.”


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