UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
Name: Isaac Castellano
Hometown: Auburndale, Wis.
Position: Science Teacher, Baraboo High School
Major: Broad Field Science: Biology
Isaac Castellano had dreamed of being a veterinarian since the second grade. It’s what brought him to UW-River Falls. That all changed at the beginning of his sophomore year.
“I stepped back and realized that my life was not focused on veterinary medicine,” he says. “My summers revolved around basketball camps, kids and my family and veterinary medicine didn't fit with that. I realized that education was my route.”
The Auburndale native, who still thrived in science, switched his major to broad field science with a biology emphasis and hasn’t looked back since.
Through a grant program, his adviser Professor Tyler Koepke was able to connect Isaac with Bernadette Zuber in a seventh-grade classroom at Meyer Middle School in River Falls. He was in a science classroom as a paid teaching assistant two times a week for the semester. As part of the program, Isaac worked with the teacher to plan, teach and assess some of his own science lessons. It gave him a taste for life in the classroom.
“It was my first time in the classroom and it opened my eyes to what it really was like,” he says. “I was nervous and a bit shell-shocked, but it confirmed that teaching was really what I wanted to do.”
Isaac is completing his student teaching at Meyer Middle School. When he graduates May 11, he will join the faculty at Baraboo (Wis.) High School where he will teach freshman biology and sophomore and junior level integrated chemistry and physics.
“I’m excited about the courses,” he says. “The biology class is team taught with two other teachers, so we will work through the curriculum together. I have two other co-workers who have taught the integrated chemistry and physics course, so I will have people to bounce ideas off of.”
Isaac had multiple job offers but chose Baraboo because of its teacher mentoring program.
“I will be paired with an experienced teacher who will take me under their wing,” he says. “They have monthly meetings that help new teachers and others who check in on you, too. It is a great opportunity for a new teacher, like myself, to have the needed support so I do not get burned out.”
On campus, Isaac spent four years as a member of the UWRF men’s basketball team. He was also involved with Aspiring Educators and the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Many of the activities provided opportunities for Isaac to work with young people.
“With SAAC and the men's basketball program, we did activities like trick or treat for canned goods, Run with the Cops 5K, and summer basketball camps,” he says.
Isaac knows the challenges of the teaching profession but is excited about his future in education.
“I love building relationships with kids, seeing them develop into young adults and going out into the world and become productive members of society,” he says. “Building that relationship that will last beyond the classroom, not just the four years I have them and they’re gone. I want to be the teacher that students come back to visit with once they’ve graduated or to be able to teach former students’ kids.”
Isaac offers this bit of advice to those who are new to campus.
“It was best when I went outside my comfort zone to try something new,” he says. “The best thing you can do is get involved in your first and second years to establish a base group that will only grow and develop through the years,” he adds.