M.S., University of Michigan
Andy Lammers teaches math in the Upper School and Grade 8 in the Middle School. He began working at Carolina Day School in 1999. Andy is married to Molly Lammers, Middle School teacher, and they have three children as CDS students. Andy has taught science classes sixth through twelfth grade, including AP environmental science. He went back to school in 2004 to earn his Master’s Degree at the University of Michigan, where he was able to be a part of the research process. He also traveled to the Arctic to collect soil samples that he analyzed for mercury content.
Get to know Andy Lammers:
What professional recognition have you received?
“2011 Betty Lou Davis Teacher Recognition Award
Presenter- 2013 National Science Teacher’s Association (San Antonio, TX) and 2012 North Carolina Independent School Association Biennial Conference (Winston Salem, NC)”
In what ways can you teach/engage children at CDS that you couldn't at other schools? “It was empowering when the Head of School told us to “do what is best for our students.” As a result, each day I work with my colleagues to figure out what is best for our students. We are not governed by politics in Raleigh nor are we bound to a rigid traditional education model. We have the chance to innovate. We seize the opportunity to continually hone our craft and evolve our teaching practice. Carolina Day gives me the freedom to pursue excellence.”
What do you like most about your job at CDS? “I love our students. They are risk-takers in the classroom and confidently defend their ideas to their peers and to adults. The enthusiasm they bring to Stephens Hall fuels our dynamic, engaged learning environment. Our advisory program builds deep relationships between faculty and students. These relationships give us courage to push each other to grow as learners and as people.”
In your opinion, how does the CDS community inspire students to be courageous and curious, wonder about things that they don’t understand, try new things, and develop individual passions? “We are not afraid to challenge our students and throw difficult obstacles in their paths. More importantly, our Middle School culture is such that students know failure is part of the process and is not a character flaw. When a student does not easily achieve success on one of my science projects, they reflect on what went wrong and try find a creative solution. They don’t judge themselves as being dumb and they don’t quit. Authentic success is within their reach if they are willing to persevere.”
How would you describe your classroom? “My classroom is a mess, but my students thrive in the mess. They love to play around and figure out how things work, not be shown pre-packaged demonstrations. They love to wade into muddy science ideas, not be handed tidy explanations. Learning, really learning, is a messy process. Big concepts are tangly and twisty and hard to wrap your head around. Tossing prototypes in the trashcan is part of making useful things that work. Developing valuable skills requires practice and mistakes. A 13-year-old is going to offend the kids in his group en route to becoming a good collaborator. An eighth-grader is going to quit in the face of real challenge before she develops perseverance.”
What books and authors inspire you, your curriculum, and your classroom? “Tony Wagner’s Global Achievement Gap and Creating Innovators are key pieces in how we understand the future of education. Rick Wormeli’s work on assessment discussed in Fair Isn’t Always Equal has had a huge impact on how we structure our teaching. Michael Gurian’s Boys and Girls Learn Differently impacts our instruction and structure as we uphold our commitment to single-gender education.”
What is your favorite quote about education, mentorship, children, and/or learning? “There is value in adversity.” -Paul Sampson, my wife’s maternal grandfather, in a reflection he wrote about growing up in the Great Depression.
How would you describe yourself and/or your approach to your job in 10 words or less? “Challenges students to drive science learning and personal growth.”
Which classroom projects/events are you known for? “Rockets. The water bottle rocket project is a signature moment of the 8th grade year. Well known because it is so visible (students launch rockets on the field between the Lower and Upper Schools and sometimes draw spectators from each place), but also because it is difficult. Students launch an egg-o-naut into the sky with their rocket and return the passenger safely to earth using a protective capsule and parachute. Grades are based on flight time and egg-o-naut survival. The project is dramatic. Successful flights often result in eigth-graders screaming and hugging in celebration of the moment.”
What personal passion brings balance to your life? “As a runner I have learned that performance is important, but that living every step along the way matters more. As a basketball coach, I have learned that success can be measured beyond wins and losses. Living up to high standards of effort, positivity, and teamwork is sometimes harder than winning a ballgame. As a dad, I understand the passion every parent feels about their child’s education.”
Is there anything else we should know about you and your work? “I write a blog about my experiences called Coaching Science Teaching Basketball. Also, I love dogs. Three of them live at our house."
When you reflect on what you do in your classroom, what do you see at CDS that’s different from what you experienced as a child in school? “As a quiet, easy going boy who didn’t love to exert himself academically and who floated through his Junior High experience at a big public school, I would have thrived having an advisor who mentored me. You can’t help rising to the expectations of a grown-up who believes in you. I would have blossomed in the small, single gender 6th and 7th grade classes where I would have been held accountable and pushed to develop my talents. Being of modest athletic ability but full of ‘want-to’ I would have loved being able to participate in a wide range of sports. I would have developed an early appreciation of the arts in our amazing age-appropriate Visual and Performing Arts program. My writing would have flourished under the tutelage of Carolina Day’s fine teachers. Thank goodness my own children have the opportunity to be here!”