In his 17 years as an eighth-grade science teacher at Country Day, Simon Keilty has made a tremendous impact on Bissell Campus and its students.
Simon, along with colleague Sarah Klingler, has developed an inquiry-based, eighth-grade science course that gives students real-world opportunities to test their ideas or hypotheses and create indelible change in their communities—whether analyzing the school’s waste stream, improving crop yield in a controlled setting, or macroinvertebrate sampling in McAlpine Creek to assess long-term water quality.
Whether enhancing the science curriculum, creating clubs that ignite students’ passions, or developing innovative programming, Simon is constantly working to engage a broad spectrum of students and build their curiosity about and appreciation for the natural world.
The weather station Simon built and installed on Bissell Campus more than 15 years ago pushes data to external sites and supports atmospheric studies. Last spring, Simon worked with rising freshman Alex Levine to rebuild a weather station for installation on Weddington Farm. He hopes to use this weather and air-quality data for student studies and comparisons with the Bissell Campus data. He also co-leads the Garden Club, Green Team, and newly formed Mountain Bike Club.
As much as he does on campus, Simon says, “One of the more powerful school experiences I participate in are the sister school exchanges. They provide a tremendous opportunity for our students to grow and expand their global perspectives.” He has led exchanges to Costa Rica and Mexico, and also mentored two students in their development of an Upper School Environmental Trip to Australia in 2017, which he co-led with Donna Campbell-Patrick.
This past June, he worked to further strengthen the connection between environmental awareness and global interactions. He applied for and won the World Affairs Council of Charlotte 2022-23 Council Scholar Award to fund his travel to Ghana to develop an air-quality monitoring curriculum between our sister schools
(read more here). This year’s award was supported by the Margaret Gragg Bissell Teacher Centered International Educational Endowment.
“I am now working to establish this with more of our sister schools, but I began with our new relationships in Ghana, explains Simon. "My hope is that this program will help inform and educate each school about the factors that determine their local air quality, as well as allow teachers and students to share this data, deepening their understanding and our relationships.”
Simon is deeply appreciative of the support he receives from the school to bring innovative programming and extracurricular activities to his students.
Simon KeiltyEighth-grade teacher
“I feel privileged to have the support of my colleagues, administrators, and parents. At every turn, from a teaching schedule that allows us time to design new course activities, funding to design new labs, and professional development opportunities, I am encouraged to brainstorm, experiment, and develop programs that give my students a phenomenal experience.”