Forming a love for science


by Nicole Rothstein, Staff Writer

It is 1978.  A young college student enters the lab. She is studying insect with a focus on flies at the University of Ohio.

Her team of fellow scientists approaches the war on parasitic diseases by fighting the pestilent carrier instead of the disease. The team is trying to control the metamorphosis of a fly by affecting its endocrine system, which controls growth and development and regulates metabolism.  

This intensive research raises questions about applying the same concepts for malaria-carrying mosquitos. Malaria is a disease that kills over a million people every year, 70 percent of which are African children 5 and younger.

“The control of insects becomes very important in saving people’s lives,” said the former college student.

Yet, she’s not in a lab; rather, students see her during their lab periods. They can find the scientist sitting in Classroom S232.

Though Mary Ann Battersby is no longer at her alma mater examining insects, she still goes to lab every day. As the teacher, Lab is Mrs. Battersby’s favorite part of her job. She loves working with students and seeing all the concepts she has taught consolidate, especially for those who are struggling in class.  

“You get to start seeing it in the real world and you see how it actually can be like a chemical reaction, and you start putting things together. That’s the ultimate for me, seeing how that comes to part,” said Mrs. Battersby.

It was a typical lab day, and Mrs. Battersby was watching over her students as they worked meticulously on their labs. During this lab, a boy looks up from his Bunsen burner. There are sparks of light dancing in his eyebrows.  The boy’s father is a member of the Board of Education.  This reality convinced her that she would be let go the following day.

Earlier in her life, Mrs. Battersby takes her first true biology course as a sophomore at. She eagerly enters the lab with great expectations.

“I remember dissecting the frog, and it was, just so exciting. It was just the greatest thing. I couldn’t wait to do it, and we had to memorize all the different parts of the frog, and I didn’t even mind doing it, it was just so exciting.”

From a very young age, Mrs. Battersby has looked at the world from the perspective of a scientist because of the influence of her father. His love for nature and career in engineering exposed Battersby to the world of science.

“He was an avid camper.  He knew so much about trees and plants and animals just from being in the woods,” she said. “He would take my sisters and I hiking.”

Following her graduation from Ohio State University in 1978, Mrs. Battersby began working at Passaic Valley High School. She left in 1982 to take care of her family, and returned to teaching twenty years later at Glen Rock High School, where she has worked for the past 13 years.  But the first time she stepped into the building was long before Passaic Valley. She also student taught at Glen Rock prior to receiving her full time position.

It was at this point in her life that she met her mentor, Mr. Voorhis. He was able to draw information out of his students in a way that made everything seem interesting. Her desire to reach Mr. Voorhis’ level of talent helped shape Mrs. Battersby’s career.

“I just decided watching him that I was going to work until I could do the same thing as he did. He had a huge impact,” she said. “I still remember how he teaches, and I try to use that as my standard. Something to reach because he was very special.”

Mrs. Battersby has reached her standard, at least according to students.

“Mrs. Battersby is special because you can see that she actually cares about what she does and that is reflected in the quality of her teaching. I always look forward to her class,” said Ali Erani, a sophomore at Glen Rock High School.

Thirty years later, Battersby and Voorhis crossed paths again. He was still working at Glen Rock so for eight years Battersby worked side by side with the teacher who motivated her in college.

Those who have worked with Battersby or have been taught by her know that the deep-rooted devotion to science she has held throughout her life is ever-present.

Hundreds of Battersby’s students owe great thanks to a member of the 1980 Passaic Valley Board of Education, for realizing that an employed Battersby would not hinder the traumatic process of his son’s eyebrows growing back.