My friend Kris, from high school (go Mules!) is a High School Chemistry Teacher. She always has a smile on her face and having her for a teacher would be awesome! She also gives kudos to our High School Chemistry teacher, Mr. Upton! She is an avid runner and also coaches Cross Country. Read on about the world of Chemistry….
Q: What is the title of your profession?
A: I am a High School Chemistry Teacher.
Q: What do you do?
A: I teach general chemistry and an elective organic chemistry class. I also coach cross country during the fall (August –November).
Q: Have you always worked in this field?
Q: If no, what was your prior profession and what made you change your profession?
A: I was a laboratory analyst for 2 years and an environmental technician for 4 years. I stopped working when my husband took a job that required an out of state move. I wanted to stay home with my children.
Q: Why did you choose this profession?
A: I had taken a cross country coaching job at our local high school and quickly realized that I enjoyed working with teenagers. My daughter was a freshman at the high school. I did some research and found out that to become a teacher; I would only need a few education classes and to pass the state certification exam.
Q: How would you define your profession?
A: A teacher is someone who shares knowledge, experiences, and a passion for learning. A teacher guides students through experiences that help them form conclusions about the world around them.
Q: Did you go to college or a trade school for this profession?
A: I went to College
Q: How long did you go to school? Where? What was your degree in?
A: A four year degree is required. I attended the University of Toledo and University of West Georgia. My degree is a BA in Chemistry for Secondary Education.
Q: Do you use your degree in your job? In what way?
A: Yes. While the difficulty of the chemistry classes in college is different from high school, the depth helps me explain concepts to students. The education classes offered ideas and background information to reach all types of learners.
Q: Can your degree be used as a basis for any other professions? What types?
A: Yes. The degree could be used for work in a lab or an environmental job such as in a water or wastewater treatment facility.
Q: Does your job require continued education? What type? How much?
A: Yes. In most states you need a certain number of credits for every 5 years to keep your certificate current. That has currently been dropped for Georgia but may return. While they may not be necessary for my certificate, schools must carry out regular professional development classes throughout the year. The classes cover a variety of topics such as testing, classroom management, and differentiating instruction.
Q: Does your job require a certification or board testing?
Q: What is a day in the life of your job? Does it change day to day? Do you work with the public?
A: I work at a high school that is on block schedule. I only teach 3 classes and they are 90 minutes each. This schedule gives me a 90 minute planning block. I try to do all of my planning during my planning period and most of my grading at home. I have to be at work by 8 and can leave at 4. I usually arrive around 7:15 and leave by 4:30. I try to get there early to get things ready for the day before students begin arriving for extra help. It may include making copies or setting up for a lab experiment. I usually have about 3-5 students show up between 7:45 and 8:15 for tutoring. I have bus duty from 3:30 – 4:00 and therefore cannot offer extra help in the afternoon. Things can change day to day. Parent conferences, fire drills, pep rallies, graduation testing, standardized testing, and other miscellaneous things occur regularly. Flexibility is important if I want to get through the day.
Q: What do you think makes a person successful in this profession?
A: Organization, patience, creativity, people skills, and a sense of humor.
Q: Does your profession require travel? How much?
A: Coaching cross country requires travel to meets. We typically have 8-10 meets in the fall. They are all on Saturdays and we return to school by early afternoon.
Q: What is the typical schedule/hours?
A: 8:00 to 4:00 is required. Typical day is 7:15 – 4:30 and then 1-2 hours of work at home in the evening a couple days a week. Cross country season keeps me at school until 6:00.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: I love when a student understands a concept after a bit of a struggle. They are so excited and feel proud for sticking it out to the end. Also, students are more appreciative than most adults would imagine. Most students are genuinely thankful at the end of the semester and do not hesitate to thank their teachers. I love when they come back and visit.
Q: What do you dislike about your job?
A: The drive. I travel 30 minutes each way. Other than that, no complaints.
Q: What advice would you give to a child/student that is considering this profession?
A: Go for it. If you really want to make a difference, this is a great profession. If you were to ask, most adults could name a teacher who had a positive impact on their life. Mine just happens to be my high school chemistry teacher. He provided an environment that gave me an opportunity to enjoy science. Mr. Upton was amazing!
Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you choose the same profession? If no, why not?
A: Yes, but I would still want to follow a similar path. The experiences I bring with me from my other jobs make me a better teacher. I am able to make connections to the real world for students. They often ask why they are in chemistry and how will it ever help them. When they see how it is used to produce everything around them, they find it interesting.
Q: Are you having fun?
A: Absolutely! My favorite day of work is Halloween. The science department puts together demonstrations that involve something that every student asks for – BLOWING THINGS UP. They love it when we blow up a pumpkin and it suddenly is carved. We then can go back in the classroom and explain the reaction and they are all ears.
Q: Do you receive a pension or have a company sponsored 401k?
A: Yes. We contribute money before taxes to the Teachers Retirement System. They also offer other various opportunities through local credit unions.