Forensics in Faraway Places

News, Staff Spotlights

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page,” said St. Augustine, a famous author, theologian, and philosopher. Ms. Jocelyn Erickson, Esperanza Academy High School’s Forensics and Chemistry Teacher, has decided to read many pages of our world book. “Through travel I’ve had the opportunity to teach in El Salvador two summers, I’ve hiked in Ireland and made lifelong friends that became family, I’ve seen the Pope in Paris and Canada, I have explored Northern Italy with friends that I met on a boat ride in Paris, explored many of the states by camper with my grandparents and siblings, I traveled to Germany and Austria to sing and sight see, and so much more.” Most recently, she has traveled to England to connect with friends who became family when she taught for a year sabbatical in London.


Her time in England was transformational, revealing to her the beauty of the British Isles, the fascinating culture, and even unique teaching styles. She says, “There is so much culture and history to visit while in London and the museums are almost all free! Each day could be its own adventure!…For my classroom I was grateful to be given the opportunity to learn about the different STEM projects done in England and learning styles taught in the English classrooms. My hopes are that I could incorporate some of them into my classes at Esperanza.” While living in London, she was able to take quick flights to explore other parts of Europe, like Ireland and Italy. Overall, her love for travel has brought more friends, memories, and joy than she ever expected into her life, and it was a treat to be able to share part of her own culture with her British students.


Esperanza Academy is happy she was able to explore England but is of course grateful to have her back for our own students as well. She teaches Chemistry, Honors Chemistry, AP Chemistry, and Forensics. She says that, “Growing up I was always intrigued by science and crime shows. I had two wonderful high school teachers that showed me what it meant to be a great teacher, and why both Biology and Chemistry were amazing subjects.” She went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in Bio-Chemistry/Molecular Biology and then her master’s degree in Forensics Science with a focus in Forensics Toxicology. She loves being able to give students hands-on experience like their annual forensics lab that analyzes a fake murder scene in the classroom and then collaborates with Mr. Riley’s law students for a mock trial. Using the evidence from their forensics analysis they are able to assist the law students in convicting the “criminal!”


Erickson has been teaching for 19 ½ years. Her love for her students and science motivates her to stay the course. She explains, “Each year I have a new batch of students to mentor, motivate, and help grow. Every time the lightbulb goes on, a student finds a ‘cool new science experiment,’ or they are intrigued by one of the fabulous scientists that paved the way for all of us – all of this reminds me why I became a teacher and stay a teacher!”


At the end of the day, teaching and traveling are important because of what we learn about ourselves and the relationships we build with each other along the way. Erickson proves this with her dedication and care for her students and the friendships she has forged in her travels. She says, “the best part of so many of my travels is my travel buddy. My little sister and I do most of our trips together. Jewels and I are only 2 years apart and our birthdays are on the same weekend.”


Esperanza Academy is grateful to Ms. Erickson for sharing her love of science and learning with us and hopes that she had an incredible summer exploring England!


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