Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Kyra Ortiz: A Personal Approach to Teaching Biology


Kyra Ortiz, the newest Upper School Science Teacher at Friends Select School, has immediately hit it off with her colleagues. “I might be biased, but I feel like the science department is one of the best departments here,” said Kyra. “Everyone is just so kind and helpful and friendly… I mean we’re all science nerds so we all have that in common even if it’s different types.” 

Growing up, Kyra went to a private religious high school, Central Catholic High School, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, which was around 45 minutes from where she lived in Hampstead, New Hampshire. Because of this, she chose not to stay later at school doing sports and instead played on local and club teams, specifically softball. 

When it came time for Kyra to apply for college, she realized that she wanted to have a career in science and wanted a school that would academically challenge her. Concerned about balancing academic rigor and varsity athletics, Kyra chose to attend Boston College where she played on the rugby club team after her friends convinced her to join. “I was worried about being a varsity student-athlete in college, and rugby was nice because it was a club team… I felt like I was part of a team but it wasn’t that same level of responsibility,” said Kyra. 

Despite originally trying to study Pre-med she ultimately, majored in Biology and Secondary Education at Boston College, aiming to become a high school teacher. After that, she stayed at BC for an extra year to get her Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Prior to coming to Friends Select, Kyra taught Biology to 9th graders at Hilltop Prep School in Bryn Mawr. She also taught Biology II to 11th and 12 graders & Live Science to 5th and 6th graders. 

When asked how she learned about the opening at Friends Select, Kyra says that she has been friends with Brian, the Director of Educational Technology, for around 10 years. Brian had just started working at Friends Select the previous year and told Kyra about the opening in the biology department, “and the rest is history.”

Currently, Kyra is sharing a classroom with Natalie Mayer, the Upper School Dean of Academics and Science Teacher, and seems to enjoy it very much. “She’s so knowledgeable and she’s been at this school for a really long time,” said Kyra. “And she’s such a sweetheart so it’s not a big deal to share a space with her.” With only one minor conflict: the temperature of the room. “She runs very cold and I run very hot… “We probably change the temperature in the room every time we teach here,” said Kyra.

Kyra confessed that her first few weeks at Friends Select were a little rocky, especially with regard to the schedule. “Within my first couple weeks of being here, I went from feeling like I was very lost and confused… to feeling much more comfortable and aware of what was going on around me,” said Kyra. “And at the very least, if I still had questions, I knew that there were lots of really friendly people that would be able to help me out, students included. I think I’ve gotten more help figuring out the schedule from Olukayode [Ekundare ‘25] than from any document that I could find in Google Drive.”   

Olukayode, a student in Kyra’s class, says, “I like that she is chill and informative while still being engaging.” He talked about how the X, Y, and Z blocks on the schedule can be confusing at times so he drew the entire schedule on the board for Kyra and explained how it worked in detail. Olukayode also claimed to really enjoy the Jumping Bean Lab that all the students did in the past week. 

Something Kyra seems incredibly passionate about is the idea of treating students as humans and getting to know them on a personal level. She says she’s looking forward to going to Echo Hill with her 9th-grade advisory, seeing it as a chance to relax and have fun with the students and build their connection more.  “I feel like I’m a very person-forward teacher. I mean science is super important, I want to make sure everyone is learning everything they need to learn.” Kyra would much rather build a fun relationship with the students than just lecture them the whole class. 

“I love getting to know my students on a more personal level, just to find out more about who they are. And so I think that in the classroom when you have those relationships with students, it helps when there are tough moments, when they are struggling, when maybe they need to be out of school for an extended amount of time for whatever reason, and then they need some help. If you have that relationship, if you know them well enough, if they have a certain level of trust with you, it goes a lot further even when you are trying to teach them or help them through a tough moment.”

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