High School Science Teacher (Chemistry & Environmental Science)
B.S. EAS 2000
Franklin Road Academy
What is your favorite part of your current position:
I currently teach all levels of Chemistry (regular, Honors, and AP) as well as Environmental Science to high school students. I spent 8 years work in public education before moving to an independent school where I have taught for the last seven years. My favorite part about the position is that every day is different and working with teenagers is extremely rewarding. It can also be quite challenging but helping a student understand complex topics in Chemistry and learning to become a better problem solver makes the hard work worth it!
How did your EAS education prepare you for your current job?:
I think anyone who graduates from Georgia Tech has learned how to balance stress, academic demands, and personal life in order to be successful. Teaching is one the hardest things I have ever done. The job is physically and emotionally demanding and I spend a lot of time worrying about student progress (or lack of progress) even when I am not at school. That worry drives me to action and allows me to find ways to help students better understand complex topics in Chemistry. I believe the grit and determination that my Georgia Tech education helped instill in me is what makes me a great educator. With my environmental science course, I love going back to topics that I learned about in Earth Systems 1-3. I include the Taking Sides series in my course because one of the things I loved about my EAS education was that we learned to look at research with a critical eye and draw conclusions that were based on sound science. In my AP Chemistry class, I enjoy sprinkling in some of the Aqueous Geochemistry equilibrium problems when we get to Equilibrium because it helps them to see real-world examples of what they are learning. Truth be told, I honestly didn’t understand equilibrium chemistry until I took Dr. Dove’s course so I think seeing the Chemistry in context truly helps improve student understanding. When it comes to lecture, I am often reminded of Dr. Ruple’s “How to Give a Truly Terrible Talk” where she helped us with our presentation skills in Research Methods (#SapeloIsland). Her tips and tricks are always at the back of my mind any time I prepare for a long lecture or talk.
What do you wish you had known as an EAS undergraduate in order to land the job of your dreams?:
My best advice would be to keep your eyes open and try not to narrow your focus too much. My dream was to graduate from Georgia Tech and help save the world. In my narrow view, I thought that meant working as a Research Scientist or Environmental Consultant but what I came to realize is that I could have a huge impact on future generations by teaching in the secondary classroom. I left my Air Quality consulting job to enter the public school classroom in Gwinnett County and I never looked back. I have had students who have gone on to major in Chemical Engineering, Medicine, and Environmental Science because of a spark they had while in my classroom. They are helping to make this world a better place and I could not be more proud of my students. Looking back now, I could have completed the dual program with Georgia State University to get my teaching degree while pursuing my undergrad. Luckily the state of Georgia had a program for Math and Science teachers where they paid for your Master’s degree in teaching. I was able to do this through Georgia State’s “Teems After Dark” program while teaching full time in Gwinnett County.