I’m currently a high school chemistry teacher in a public school. The journey to this position has been interesting and not necessarily the traditional route. I studied Biology in college but realized I didn’t want to do research or become a doctor. Upon re-evaluating my life as a college senior, I discovered that I loved science at the high school level, where I could explore a vast array of topics one right after the other. Since my college (The College of New Jersey, formerly Trenton State College) was already known as a teacher’s college, I had no qualms about applying there for graduate school.
After receiving a Master’s of Arts in Teaching from TCNJ, I got a job teaching biology at a public school. First year of teaching is always a rough year, but mine seemed particularly ill-fitted. The next year I landed back at my old high school teaching chemistry, where I learned that I actually loved the subject about 20x more than I enjoyed biology. Soon thereafter, I realized I wanted to return to college to get the last few credits I needed to be fully certified to teach chemistry. I stayed at my old high school for a total of 4 years before the opportunity arose for me to take on the necessary college courses needed for certification. I finished those classes December of 2012, took the Praxis II exams at the end of January, got the Praxis II exam scores the end of February, and signed for my new job March 15, 2013. God certainly opened and closed a lot of doors to bring me to this point, but I’m confident this is a good place for me.
Teaching’s a wonderful career. Teaching science is especially rewarding because most students can do way more than they give themselves credit for. Unlocking that potential is a satisfying challenge. Teaching at the high school level also affords chunked time off during the summer. Most people who aren’t teachers only hear that and think we have it easy, but they don’t really think about the countless nights and weekend hours spent grading, creating tests, worksheets, powerpoints, etc for lessons, or lesson planning. I’m not complaining, just stating a fact few non-teachers come to realize on their own. The time off in the summer allows me to indulge in a side career as a writer.
People have asked if I’d like to write full time instead of teaching, but the more I think about that question, the more I like the way things are, part teaching and part writing. Chemistry’s a very organized, orderly subject, while writing allows for a wide range of creative outlets. Science fiction is especially fun because pretty much anything goes as long as you can explain it well.
Thanks for listening,
Julie C. Gilbert