Women in STEM: Spotlight on Monica Zimmers 



Our new Algebra 1 Teacher, Monica Zimmers.

Women and girls are often pushed away from studying math and science throughout their education, which limits their chances of joining this field in their adult life.  


“Women makeup half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 29% of the science and mathematical science workforce” according to National Girls Collaborative Project


There is a lack female representation in the STEM fields. Giving women equal opportunities to thrive in STEM careers helps narrow the gay pap, while enhancing women’s economic security and ensures a workplace will be diverse and talented. Another benefit of women in STEM, is how empowering they can be to others. Education systems emphasized the responsibility of both female and male teachers to educate and inspire students in school. Yet having a female teacher figure can impact the development of youth education and the community as a whole. Monica Zimmers, is the newest addition to Rhinebeck High School, and is a perfect example of a female role model involved with STEM. 


Before landing at Rhinebeck Ms. Zimmers had been involved with STEM for multiple years. She participated in a summer teaching program in New York City her junior year of college, and fell in  love with the city and its progressive pedagogy. From there she ended up teaching at a  middle school in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn and Astoria, Queens. Besides teaching in New York City Ms. Zimmers has taught in Long Island, and even taught in Viña del Mar in Chile. 


I got to speak to Ms. Zimmers about COVID-19 and how teaching has changed. 


Q: What’s it like to start teaching at a new school?


A: Honestly, it was pretty nerve-racking! While classroom teaching is similar almost anywhere, each institution has its own culture and day-to-day protocols that require a bit of an adjustment, amplified by the coronavirus restrictions. However, the first time I walked down the hallways for my interview with the superintendent, I felt this feeling of home and thought, “I could totally see myself working here.” Luckily, everyone has been so nice and supportive that it has made the transition as easy as possible.


Q: What’s it like beginning the school year in the midst of a pandemic?


A: Crazy. Totally nuts. I felt as though everything I have learned as an educator and have practiced before had to be thrown out the window. One of the ways I feel I am an effective educator is by making connections with my students and getting to know them. This is much harder to do when you only see your students in-person once a week! Fortunately, it seems to be working as well as it can, and everyone is safe which is the most important thing.  


Q: Why did you want to be a teacher?


A: When I was in 8th grade I was a peer tutor for a 6th grader who was struggling in math. In just a few short sessions of working together, I was able to see not only her skills improve but her overall opinion of math. I had a very clear “ah-ha” moment of “I want to do this for the rest of my life.” Math has always been a subject I loved (partly because I felt it was the only subject I didn’t have to memorize) and I wanted others to see just how beautiful it can be.


When not teaching, Ms. Zimmers spends time with her two young daughters Alice and Hazel. Ms. Zimmers loves going on hikes and gardening with her girls, who like to look at the worms. When she has alone time, Monica enjoys making furniture from recycled wood and reading novels. While Ms. Zimmers isn’t the first female math teacher in our school, her presence and her involvement with STEM will improve our community and encourage equity in education.