Durham teacher says animals in the classroom have improved test scores

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Durham teacher says her more hands-on approach to teaching has helped improve students' test scores.

Demikia Taylor is not your typical high school teacher.

"I'm definitely not the type of teacher that will stand in front of them (students) and talk too much," Taylor said. " I like to hear what they have learned once they have gone out and done their own thing."

The animal science teacher at Northern High School in Durham has been at her post for the last five years.

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The back portion of her classroom is unlike a math or English classroom.

A fluffy grey rabbit sat in a cage on top of a large black rabbit. Both are curious.

"We let them roam," she said. "We don't keep them in a cage, they have social time."

She said having the animals roam free is therapeutic in a way for her students.

Taylor said when she took over the animal science program five years ago, the classroom was not a thriving environment as it is now.

Since then, she has grown an under student populated program from one teacher and a single rabbit to a three-teacher program, multiple animals, and a packed classroom.

This school year is one with high expectations.

Last year, Taylor took home two Teacher of the Year awards: Northern High School Teacher of the Year and Durham Environment and Soil Teacher of the Year.

In the time that Taylor has been in control of the department, test scores have only increased.

"When they get that hands-on experience and they see everything that's on the test versus reading in a book, it makes a big difference."

And the classroom is not limited to the walls of Northern High School. It's not uncommon for students to be seen working at the Hub Farm.
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