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Maribel PregnallPhotographs courtesy of Maribel Pregnall

Maribel Pregnall

Teacher

Canoeing, scuba-diving, whale watching, camping on a mangrove island... If this doesn’t sound like your high school science class, then you probably never had a teacher like Maribel Pregnall. Now in her 20th year of teaching science at Dutchess County’s Arlington High School, Pregnall is the kind of teacher we all wish we’d had.

“Teaching, to me, is a new adventure every day,” says the 45-year-old educator, one of four finalists for the 2009 New York State Teacher of the Year award. “Calling it a job seems far too mundane.” She has taught virtually every science course offered by her school, including AP biology, marine biology, oceanography, and a research course.

Where Pregnall differs from many teachers is in her embrace of hands-on teaching tools. Her classroom currently has seven large marine aquaria, four small freshwater aquaria, and one large trout aquarium. (There are also four snakes, a lizard, a turtle, and the occasional hamster or two.) A typical classroom activity might involve caring for trout embryos until they are large enough to release into streams in the Hudson watershed.

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