Faculty Farewells: Camilla Nivison sets off to pursue a degree in marine ecology

Lucy Peck, Staff Writer

Upper Division (UD) science teacher Camilla Nivison will leave the school after five years of teaching to pursue a PhD in marine ecology at the University of Georgia. “That is my next adventure, but I’ve been assured by many that I’m always welcome back here so who knows, maybe you’ll see me again.”

Nivison will miss her memories with students and teachers, she said. “For the past few years on my birthday, Mr. Zvezdin has busted into at least one of my classes and announced to everybody that it was my birthday and gotten everyone to sing to me,” she said. “It’s little things like that that make you feel seen and appreciated.”

Nivison has most enjoyed teaching environmental science at the school because of the exciting challenge it presented, she said. She taught about ecosystems, how humans affect them, what climate change is, and what it means beyond a big buzzword, she said. She was familiar with many of the units, but there were also units that were new for her.

Nivison’s favorite part about teaching is giving students a knowledge base so they can explore on their own and make independent discoveries, she said. “Sometimes that is figuring things out that I hadn’t thought of, and sometimes that is figuring something out that was in my next progression of ideas but they didn’t need me to tell them.”

Throughout her five years Nivison has grown to love school traditions like senior reflections, she said. “I enjoy that by senior year, those seniors are excited and comfortable enough to do that in front of their peers.”

She has also been engaged in many of Dorr-related traditions like orientation for new students and Searchers, a program for seniors in the spring sports season where they learned outdoor skills and ultimately planned a backpacking trip.

Before she taught at the school, Nivison went to graduate school for her Masters in teaching and taught at a boarding school in Western Massachusetts, she said. She came to the school because she was looking for a job in New York City and after meeting the science department, she knew that the school would be a great place to teach, she said. “That has really held true because a lot of the teachers that I work with on a daily basis are my close friends.”

UD physics teacher Oleg Zvezdin is friends with Nivison outside of school, he said. “Being friends with my colleagues makes it much easier to come in and have a good day.” He enjoys being able to call on colleagues like Nivison for help setting up labs, he said. 

Nivison had great mentors growing up who inspired her to pursue science, she said. Her high school biology and ecology teacher fostered her passion for teaching and science though of his knowledge and passion for the subject, she said. She also did community service in schools throughout high school and college. “I didn’t necessarily know for sure I wanted to be a teacher, but it was a logical path that I followed.”

One new thing that Nivison introduced to her classes was an increased emphasis on visualizing data collection, Zvezdin said. One example is the ice core lab, which introduces students to what the environment was like in the past. “I remember helping her to do a cool lab where she literally made an ice core sample out of beads. That required counting out thousands of beads,” he said. “Actually creating an ice core for the kids to play around with and examine speaks to her desire to get the students to interact with the data.”