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To get a really good sense of why Caroline Solomon is a great teacher, you have to go into the field with her. On this particular morning, that means a boat on the Anacostia River.

We’re about 4 miles from the campus of Gallaudet University, where Solomon is a professor of biology. She and a student — Anna McCall — are heading in a small boat to take water samples.

For months now, Solomon and her students have been dropping probes testing for oxygen, salinity and chlorophyll. It’s data that helps gauge the river’s health, which is not very good right now, says Solomon.

“I know what’s in this river,” she laughs. Her voice is audible as she speaks with us, but she communicates with students in sign language.

To McCall, who was born deaf, Solomon is more than a role model. She’s a great teacher, tough but fair. A missionary with a scientist’s zeal.

In The Classroom And On the River, Modeling Success In Science

Photo credit: Elissa Nadworny/NPR