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Science Class

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WSVN -- Cathy Cryer: "You got her? There you go."

Where can you have a bird on your shoulder, a snake around your neck and a ferret in your arms? In Ms. Cryer's seventh grade science class, of course.

Cathy Cryer: "Which part of a cell has no ribosomes attached to it?"

Students here are taking a quiz. At the same time, some pretty wild wildlife roam free of their cages in the classroom.

Teacher Cathy Cryer loves animals.

Cathy Cryer, Teacher, Dade Christian School: "When I was growing up, there was always an animal, always something around our house, hamsters and cats. My dad had hunting dogs."

And she knew these animals could help kids learn valuable lessons.

Cathy Cryer: "I just felt that if I could implement an animal in a classroom, I would be able to teach the kids how to be gentle and care about a creature."

Ms. Cryer says she has had to change her style of teaching to really get kids to focus.

Cathy Cryer: "Students today are so stimulated, overstimulated with TV, video games, with phones. They're constantly texting."

So she grabs their attention by letting the animals teach them life lessons, like overcoming their fears. Twelve-year-old Lucas admits he wasn't sure about holding a snake at first.

Lucas Larvenz, Seventh Grader: "I was really nervous. I didn't want to touch the snake. Then when I touched the snake, I'm like, 'Oh, this isn't that bad.'"

They also learn about predators versus prey, like the day a hamster got too close to the ferret.

Cathy Cryer: "So I took that as a tool to say, 'You know, there are also students or people who are going to reach out to grab you. Maybe not physically but verbally. What are you going to do about that? How are you going to handle that?'"

And of course, it's a great opportunity to learn about the birds and the bees.

Cathy Cryer: "They know something is going on. Then before you know it, the whole classroom is looking over there, like, 'What's going on?'"

That prompts a lesson on reproduction. And if you think the animals distract these students from learning, 13-year-old Zoe says it's the opposite.

Zoe Moran, Seventh Grader: "We can still concentrate while playing with the animals after we're done with the test, too."

Ms. Cryer says she's been blessed with the gift to teach and is likely to end up on a lot of kids' favorite teachers list.

Lucas Larvenz: "I think of Ms. Cryer as one of the best teachers I've ever had. She's really nice, and I just love her."

Lynn Martinez: "Ms. Cryer also holds a bird raffle for her classes where students, with their parents' permission, can adopt a baby bird."

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