Ask: Mrs. Pernice

Gretchen Callahan, Photography and Video Editor/Staff Writer

Where did you grow up? Was it around here?

I grew up in Massachusetts about an hour south of here.


When you were growing up were science subjects your favorite?

I did enjoy science growing up. I was the type of kid who would take a book report and turn it into a science project.


Where did you go to college? And did you study anything else besides science and teaching?

I went to UMass Amherst for undergrad, I did study bio. Then I went to UMass Lowell for my graduate degree. I also studied biology and got my masters in bio. And then later when I realized I wanted to teach, I went to Framingham State and got my teaching certification there.


Do you have a favorite college memory?

I met my husband in college, so that’s significant. I also attended an animal necropsy, so that’s kind of like an autopsy of wildlife. It was just a very unique and interesting experience because I was able to gain a sense of the autopsy process, and see how the varied kinds of tissue damage can tell a story about the animal’s final hours.


What is you favorite unit to teach in either biology or chemistry?

For chemistry I would say gasses is a lot of fun. And then ecology for biology is probably one of my top units.


What is the coolest thing you have ever done?

Giving this interview.


What is your favorite song?

I don’t know. I don’t think I could pick one. I have a lot of favorites. I listen to a wide range of music: The Shins, The Pixies, some Led Zeppelin.


How many tattoos do you have? What do they mean?

I only have two. The daisy tattoo helps people to remember what flower to give me.


Some students want to know about a zombie themed wedding you attended?

They’re probably talking about my wedding. My husband and I jokingly vowed to survive the zombie apocalypse together.


What is a story that gave you a lesson you have carried with you?

In 2009 Carol Greider and her colleagues won a Nobel Prize for Medicine for their work discovering the enzyme telomerase. And I listened to an interview with Greider at the time where she talked about how she has dyslexia and how she struggles with her pursuit of education, and how it took her longer to learn certain things. Her perseverance was an important lesson for me: to keep pursuing in light of having challenges.


Do you have a life lesson you want students to know?

I think the life lesson I remember is probably the same one [as described in the previous question]. In high school students face challenges all the time and are constantly learning new information. It’s not always easy. But easy stuff is boring in my opinion. When you face a challenge it’s always good to push through, especially if you have a goal in mind. And students aren’t always in it alone. It’s always good to ask for help. Nobody ever knows everything.