Connections + Science Stools
One of the main reasons I started my business was because I deeply value the experience of connecting with others. My business and all the decisions in between have always been focused on connection and bringing people together. Why I chose to start my business as a mobile boutique; to bring people together through a unique shopping experience.
My whole career has been about connecting people and bringing people together, including (and especially) my teachers. As many know, I am an Associate Professor at National Louis University where I teach learning and assessment - in other words, I teach teachers. I’ve always valued the importance of connection and have embedded this value in all of my curricula throughout my teaching career.
A past student who I’ve kept in touch with over the years is Hope Mikkelson; a deeply passionate science teacher who is humbly changing the world one student at a time. In light of bringing people together, we interviewed Hope where we talked about the science world, her journey to teaching, and the importance of building connections.
A Little About Hope
Hope is a teacher at Verona Area High School where she teaches a wide variety of science subjects including, Environmental Science, Bio 2 (college prep course), Human Body Systems (Project Lead the Way course), BI (Biomedical Innovations), and AP Research. Hope is also heavily involved in extracurriculars including running the Science Club, Women in Science and Engineering Organization, Drone Club, and Girl Power Africa to name a few. In other words, she’s teaching our society’s future doctors, nurses, and medical researchers.
When asked how her students are navigating the science world today, she mentioned her students are so open to talking about all of the big issues. With social media and the internet being flooded with false information, Hope expressed how she’s been pushing the importance to find biases and check where resources are coming from to ensure it’s credibility to her students.
“That is my job. For them to read something and be able to have them look at it critically. I want the kids to have a little bit of healthy skepticism so that when they’re listening and hearing things, they're asking the right questions and know where to go to fact check.”
Hope shared some incredible resources she uses with her students to ensure where you are getting information is credible. She highly recommends using the Media Bias Chart for an easy way to look up the source you are receiving information from. That way, you can ask the right questions yourself! Click here to be directed to the Media Bias Chart.
When asked if she had always known she’d be a teacher her answer was, “actually no, although it makes sense as I would always play ‘teacher’ as a kid growing up,” she chuckles. “And I love to be organized!”
Hope always wanted to be a doctor! “I was going to work on an Indian reservation. General practice.”
However, after some time in college, she realized two things: 1) she couldn’t stay up super late and 2) she didn’t really like the sight of blood. After this epiphany, Hope pursued environmental studies and ended up working for the DNR for the state of Wisconsin post college which ended up being more time inside than outside, constantly looking over data and spreadsheets. Another sign it was time for a change! And so, she applied to the UW to become an educator and the rest is history.
People’s life journeys are beautiful. Hearing of Hope’s journey to becoming an educator, her true passion, is a wonderful reminder that our journey’s are ever-evolving; we’re always a work in progress. Something she made sure to point out in our interview.
“My journey is not done. I know that I will be retiring in a few years but my next step in life will likely have something to do with science.”
The Science Stools
In our shop, we have some special painted stools scattered around our shop. These aren't just any stools. They were stools donated by Hope from her old classroom. The story of how the stools got to Grasshopper is a special one.
“We were moving to a new school with all brand new things and so, we were told to get rid of all the old stuff,” Hope begins. Over the years Hope had students paint the stools in her classroom with their own artwork. Stools that would have definitely been considered “old stuff”.
“The environmentalist in me, I was like ‘I can’t just throw these away. Where are they gonna go? Are they going to the landfill? Turned into metal scrapes?’ And then seeing the artwork... my students made these,” she explained.
“There was a little spot in my heart that decided these are some special students that made this artwork and I wanted them to live on.” And so, Hope reached out to myself and asked if I wanted to use them at Grasshopper Goods. Hope’s thought was, “Maybe someday one of these students will come into Grasshopper Goods and see their artwork. Keeping that connection alive.”
“We always talk about connections and creating relationships. That’s the whole thing here. I always tell my own students you have to seek out people and find mentors - find a lot of different mentors. And I hope that I am a mentor to some of the students who come through my doors. I think having all these connections makes our world so much better.”
Speaking with Hope was special. She is one of the most passionate, hardworking, incredible people I have the pleasure of knowing. Whether you’re an educator yourself or not, we hope Hope’s story inspired you just as it has for me.