The Collector Store

Joe Brocksmith Uses Snakes in his Classroom to Enrich Education


Credit to Kaili Martin

By Linsey Zerbonia

Walk in. Sit in an assigned seat. Listen to the teacher talk. Take notes. Many times, the learning environment looks the same, but that’s not the case for science teacher Joe Brocksmiths’ class at FHN. Brocksmith teaches both biology as well as environmental science. Brocksmith owns five snakes that he keeps in his classroom. Just as he is going into his 16th year teaching, the snakes are going into their 16th year living at North.

“I got them when I was in college,” Brocksmith said. “I mostly got them so I can breed them.”

Brocksmith loves the snakes, but some of his students do not seem to feel the same way.

“Many of my students are curious about them and ask a lot of questions, but I always get a large group of students who walk into my room and say ‘Oh Hell no,’” Brocksmith said.

One of his students, junior Isabel Granjeno, is currently in Brocksmith’s Biology Two class.

“When I first walked in I was terrified, I literally hate snakes,” Granjeno said.

Although snakes are a unique incorporation into the classroom, they are not just meant to be any normal class pet. Brocksmith says he did not want the smell of snakes in his home, but also wanted a purpose for the snakes.

“Many kids are scared of snakes for no reason, so I like to bring them in and educate kids about them so they can get over the fear of them,” Brocksmith said.

Some students feel opposite about the snakes as Granjeno feels. Another one of his AP students, junior Adel Mountasir, enjoys having the snakes around.

“I actually like them here because they’re so cute,” Mountasir said. “They don’t bother anyone unless you aggravate one.” .

With all the fun that comes along with owning snakes inside of the classroom, there has to be some educational purpose.

“The snakes come in handy when doing the reptile unit.” Brocksmith said. “We get them out and use them as a fun educational prop. They’re just so fun.”