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New Earth Science Teacher Joins White Plains Staff

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- James Fiddes, who began his 40th year of teaching when he joined the White Plains Public School District this September, said, as an earth sciences teacher, he couldn't have asked for better August weather.

"Look what nature did for me,” Fiddes said, explaining how earth science matters outside the classroom. “With an earthquake and a hurricane at the beginning of the year, how much apropos can you get? It's real stuff. No matter what you do you're going to be involved with the weather. Everybody likes jewelry – that's rocks and minerals that come from the earth. All the phosphorous stuff in computer screens and chips comes from the ground."

Fiddes, a Bethel, Conn. resident, said he thinks Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant will be a good discussion for his eighth graders at Highlands Middle School and his tenth graders at the high school.

Besides having as many students pass the regions as possible, Fiddes said he aims to get as involved in designing coursework as he has at other school districts.

Fiddes teaching career began in 1983 when the Peace Corps sent him to Gambia to teach wood shop. While in West Africa, he helped fundraise for the school library he designed and built. Back in America, he taught middle school English as a Second Language and English courses in Danbury, Conn. for eight years. He then studied oceanography in graduate school and began teaching biology, chemistry, and other science classes in Woodlands, N.Y.

According to Fiddes, teaching a variety of subjects has convinced him that it's critical for high school students to "learn how to learn."

"They need to be lifelong learners because the reality is everything will change in their lifetime as radically as it did in mine," said Fiddes. "When I was in seventh grade the Sputnik launched, and now this watch gets a signal from a satellite."

Meg Doty, district science coordinator, said Fiddes' experience is a "valuable" addition to the White Plains staff.

"He brings an enormous amount of resources to us. He's shared this cool jeopardy game with sounds and everything with all the science teachers and some stuff for the fall equinox," said Doty, who has worked in White Plains schools for 11 years. "He has a nice relationship with kids. He's easygoing without being a pushover."

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