Caitlin Wockenfuss, Biology
After teaching Anatomy at Tech, Caitlin Wockenfuss sheds the outfit of a mild-mannered teacher, revealing her
true identify as "Coach Wock." She recently led Tech's JV cheerleading team to victory, making them eligible to
compete at Nationals which will be held in Orlando, FL. The team is working furiously on their moves, and is also
raising money for hotel and travel If you would like to help them in that effort, Click here.
In her Teacher Feature interview, Ms. Wockenfuss (alias Coach Wock) explains the relationship between teaching
anatomy and cheerleading:
We understand you teach anatomy. Can you tell us a bit about the course?
The course was designed to mimic a similar class I took and was a TA for in college, which focused on exploring all the major systems of the body through dissections as well as class discussions. The students review the ways in which the body is described, such as relative positions of organs or structures, as well as medical terminology used to describe certain conditions. Lab dissections are a large part of the course, taking up about 1/3 of the syllabus; the students dissect the muscular, cardiovascular, digestive, and urogenital systems of a cat, nervous system of a shark, and heart, eye, and brain of a sheep. By the end of the class the students will have learned the structures and functions of all 11 major organ systems, and have a better understanding and appreciation of how their own bodies work. My own personal goal for the class is to give them a head start to an anatomy course they may take in college should they pursue a degree in Biology or Pre-Med, and I have gotten a lot of great feedback from Tech alums that they remember many of our labs and lessons!
How common (or uncommon) is it for high school students to be studying this subject?
I think pretty uncommon; the most anatomy I was exposed to in high school was in AP Biology where we also dissected a cat, but we did not go into nearly as much depth as is covered in Tech's course. I think it is wonderful that Tech offers this course as it contributes to what makes the Brooklyn Tech education and experience unique and special.
You are also the coach for cheer, is that right? What drew you to that - were you a cheerleader yourself?
I was! I cheered in high school and was captain for two years as well as had the opportunity to choreograph our routines for halftimes and competitions. In college I pursued dance, was a dance minor, and was involved with a few dance companies on campus. I jumped at the opportunity to coach cheer at Tech because I always wanted to go back to the sport and coach. It is very rewarding to me to see the kids work so hard and succeed in completing their goals each year, and the team keeps getting better and better!
What is the connection - or is there one - between anatomy and cheer and dance, which I gather is also part of your practice?
There absolutely is a connection! Perhaps my favorite part of anatomy and so much of our focus is on the skeletal and muscular systems, and the exercise science behind movement. I often have many athletes in class and we discuss common injuries to joints or ligaments, pulled muscles, proper stretching techniques, proper alignment, and ways to use the muscles efficiently. I know I became even more intrigued with my dance curriculum when I took anatomy, as I could visualize the internal processing occurring with each step. At cheer practice we make sure to properly condition at the beginning and end, which includes warming up, stretching, and practicing both aerobic and anaerobic exercises. Cheerleading requires a lot of stamina; each routine may only be 2:30 minutes but it includes non-stop stunting, dancing, tumbling, jumping, and even yelling. There is a funny saying; Athletes lift weights, cheerleaders lift athletes.
Please describe your own educational background... where you went to school and where you got your degrees.
I went to Penn State University for undergrad (Biology major, Dance minor), and SUNY Empire State College for graduate school (Masters in the Art of Teaching)