All in the Family – Episode 14

Innovation students and teacher at National Debate Championship
Innovation MS students, with coach Robin Fieler, at National Debate Championship

Having a family member that works with you, or teaches the same subject, can be quite helpful. Today’s guests feature a mother and daughter who teach the same subject at different levels and schools and a husband and wife who teach the same grade level at the same school .

Beth Askins coached her daughter, Robin Fieler, on Timber Creek High School’s debate team for three years, and now serves as her mentor. Both teach and coach debate at their respective schools, TCHS and Innovation Middle School.

Through the Central Florida Debate Initiative, Beth is proud of their work to get Florida House Bill 807 passed. This allows students to use their debate competition hours toward the Florida Bright Future Scholarship volunteer requirement.

Debate helps students foster research, critical thinking, writing and speaking skills that transfer across all disciplines. Knowing the life-long value of such skills, the district is helping schools grow their debate programs by supporting high school, and now middle schools, with travel funding.

Most recently, Gov. Ron DeSantis launched a statewide speech and debate initiative.

“The goal is to make us a nationwide leader in training high school teachers in all Florida counties and to also show an example to other states as we begin to do a competitive speech and debate program at their schools,” DeSantis said in a news conference. “There’s value to doing this if we’re going to promote civics education.”

Crystal Walsh and Clint Walsh teach eighth grade at Discovery MS. They find it helpful to know what the other is teaching so they can make connections in their own classrooms to show students that learning is fluid. They also think sharing students helps build relationships with them.

Crystal and Clint are enjoying how Discovery is incorporating arts integration into all classes. They both have unique lessons that develop art skills in various ways, like Crystal’s chalkboard wall to include student notes and art.

Need my space chalkboard
Practice of Science chalkboard
All the small things chalkboard

Plus, how cool is it that Clint’s social studies students learn how to debate and then feed into Beth’s school where she hopes they’ll take her class so she can cultivate those skills?

Listen to this episode to hear what it’s like to have family at work. It’s a great conversation about cross-curricular learning and how to be innovative.

ABOUT THE GUESTS –

Clint Walsh, Crystal Walsh, John Wright, Robin Fieler, Beth Askin, Sara Au

Beth Eskin is the debate teacher at Timber Creek High. She is English Language Arts certified and has taught all grade levels in her 33 year career, teaching 22 of them within OCPS. Beth has held leadership positions in many local, state and national leagues. She also chaired the wording committee for Public Forum Debate, which means she helped craft the topics that thousands of students debated. She is currently the co-director of the Florida Debate Initiative. 

Tricia “Robin” Fieler is a speech and debate teacher and coach at Innovation Middle School and is an OCPS alumnus. She attended Pinar Elementary, Liberty Middle, and Timber Creek High (Class of 2006). She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature at UCF. She is proud that Innovation is the first middle school in OCPS to ever qualify and compete at the National Speech and Debate tournament this past summer in Dallas, Texas. They also hold the title for best middle school duo performance in all of Central Florida. She says her students are rock stars!

Crystal Walsh teaches eighth grade science at Discover Middle School. She is also the Science Department chair and part time science coach. She attended Englewood, Little River and Waterford elementary schools, Discovery Middle and University High School and is proud to say she is a product of OCPS. When she returned to Discovery MS as a teacher (13 years ago), she was thankful to her former teachers who served as mentors her first years teaching. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Science Education with a specialization in Biology from UCF (2006) and a Master of Science degree in Geoscience (2012) from Mississippi State’s Teachers in Geoscience Distance Learning Program.

John “Clint” Walsh is a UCF graduate and eighth grade United States history teacher at Discovery Middle. Since starting with OCPS in 2005, he’s taught at Apopka Memorial, Avalon and Glenridge middle schools. He is one of six teachers selected nationwide for the Life Guard Teacher Fellowship for the George Washington Teacher Institute at Mount Vernon (2019-2020 school year).

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