Teaching At Its Best

“In my work with high schoolers, I remind my students that they are doing their best and that they are enough. I always try to remind myself of that as well.
At the same time, we can still hold ourselves to a high standard, and be proud of our work and enjoy it very much.”

- Lainey Bristow


Lainey BristowLainey Bristow is in her 2nd year teaching A.P. Biology at Hiawatha Collegiate High School (HCHS). Before joining Hiawatha, Lainey spent four years teaching Biology in Indiana at St. Joseph High School, and Penn High School as a dual-credit teacher in Indiana where she also received her Master of Science in Biological Sciences from the University of Notre Dame.

At HCHS, Lainey started her first-semester teaching A.P. Biology and an ELD science class with the support of ELD teachers, where she taught WIDA levels 2, 3, and under. This school year, Lainey sits as the department head, and teaches two sections of A.P. Biology class/discussion, in addition to 4 lab sections with instructional time solely focused on experimentation and building transferable skills. She also enjoys coaching the high school varsity soccer team at the high school!

As Department Chair, Lainey leads instructional development and learning for the department. From addressing gaps in instruction to collaborating on new learning strategies, Lainey’s leadership is rooted in the development of her teammates through co-planning, analyzing student work, and rigorously examining practices and methods of teaching. She actively participates in teacher recruitment, hiring, and retention. Over this past year, Lainey has been assisting and mentoring four new department members as well.

Last summer, she attended the A.P. Biology Summer Institute, where she received training from esteemed A.P. Biology teachers who’ve taught in the field for at least 15 to 20 years. Her pedagogy is centered on shifting instruction to skill-based engagement, where teacher instruction takes a step back, and student-led learning becomes a more significant part of the learning process. Practicing a flipped classroom model has allowed Lainey’s students to focus class time on vital skills development.

Student Photo Teaching
Student Photo Student photo

Lainey is also a fellow in the Hollyhock Fellowship Program 2022-2024, a professional development program at Stanford University that provides instructional training and support to high school teachers from across the country who are interested in deepening and developing their content-specific instructional practices and creating equitable access and opportunities for all learners in their classrooms. The fellowship includes: 2 weeks in summer residence on Stanford’s campus attending workshops focused on core content & examining issues of equity in schools; and online coaching sessions throughout each school year with expert practitioners & peers.

Over the summer, Lainey will be working with the MN-ASCEND program at the University of Minnesota, Masonic Cancer Center as a curriculum developer. She looks forward to meeting scientists, researchers, and young undergraduates interested in cancer research, and planning how her curriculum could expand beyond cancer research and into inspiring underrepresented students in STEM fields. By publishing her resources through the university, not only does she want every teacher to have access to it, but also to incorporate her research into her A.P. Biology curriculum.

Student Photo
Student Photo

Lainey's advice to our scholars prepping to start college.

“You are going to be the captain of your own ship.”

“Be accountable and learn for the sake of gaining a better understanding of something you are truly passionate about. Don’t just focus on getting an A or a B, because when you are in your senior year close to graduating, you need to think about how all your learning builds up in those classes and sets you up for what you want to do in your life.”

“You are going to learn a lot about yourself.”


Congratulations again to Lainey Bristow on becoming a finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching - the highest award a K-12 STEM teacher can earn in the United States.