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Medical school graduate offers 'unique experience' for students

LAWRENCEVILLE -- When students walk in to Susan Kramer's advanced placement biology class, the first question they have is how to address her.

Is it Dr. Kramer? Mrs. Kramer?

"It often comes out as Mrs. Dr. Kramer," she said laughing.

The Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology teacher is the system's only medical school graduate teaching K-12 students.

The potential wealth of a career as a doctor, however, never interested her.

"I quickly found it wasn't the right fit for me," said Kramer, who graduated from the University of Miami School of Medicine in 1979.

"I left for a while and had a family, and then I had to find a job. I realized that whatever role I was playing in my life I always was the explainer in every situation, and so I figured maybe that's what I was supposed to do, and so I became the explainer."

She's been the explainer since 1991, when she began teaching in Florida. She later moved to Parkview High School in Gwinnett County where she taught for 10 years, spent four years at Peachtree Ridge and has been at GSMST for the past four years. Teaching biology is her strong point, she said.

Having a doctor teach you AP biology has its perks, said 16-year-old Yaro Ioselina.

"What she says makes sense," Ioselina said. "And it's a stress-free environment," he said.

Quipped Kramer: "That's because you haven't got your quizzes back yet."

Both laughed.

But fellow students of Kramer's class agreed with Ioselina.

"She's an awesome teacher," said Shawn Wells, 14.

Mani Japra, 15, said Kramer "likes to have fun when she teaches. "Plus," he said. "Having a doctor for a teacher it kind of feels like a university in the classroom."

Avush Patnaik, also 15, said Kramer is good because "she knows what she's talking about."

Students like Ioselina, Wells, Japra and Patnaik are at the local charter school because it's a rigorous math and science school, said Kramer.

She knows what it's like to be young and gifted. Having graduated from high school at 16 and finishing medical school at the age of 23, she understands the mind set of her students.

And having been through medical school, she can help them "with a unique perspective.

"I can teach them the kind of things they're going to need to be good at and help them learn the habits of mind that will help them be successful," Kramer said.

Many students of the school often continue on to the medical field, Kramer said. "While I don't practice medicine, I have taught quite a few who went on to be doctors," she said.

It just wasn't for her.

"I love my job," she said. "I like coming to work every day. I'm never going to be rich, but I love what I do and I really am very satisfied as I can pass knowledge on to the students--that's the greatest feeling in the world."