This week’s Teacher Feature is Steve Ahn. Steve and I worked together many years in SC and I remember how much the students loved him. Recently our paths crossed again and I was very interested in shining the light on him! I hope you enjoy learning more about Steve and what he is teaching now.
1. What is your official title(s) and what services do you provide?
Secondary Teacher - Holston High School, Damascus VA, Life sciences
2. Would you describe your school setting?
Rural - 300 students 9-12, this area was formerly tobacco and coal mining, but suffers from a lack of opportunity right now similar to a lot of Appalachia. 50% free lunch, 61% free/reduced
3. How long have you been teaching?
21 years I think
4. What ages/grades/subject did you teach prior to this current assignment?
I've taught middle and high school science - biology, ecology, physics, anatomy, earth science, physical science, oceanography
5. What inspired you to become a teacher?
My high school physics teacher
6. What is the best thing that a student has ever said to you?
I have received the most amazing compliments through the years - the most impactful ones are those that come back years later and say something like "not only were you the best teacher I ever had, but you saw me as more than just a student - you saw me as a human"
7. What do you feel is the most difficult thing about teaching?
Pressure from high stakes testing and then just culture issues (like poverty) in our students
8. What do you feel is the best thing about teaching?
Never the same day twice and one is fighting the good fight
9. What is the biggest issue in education that you wish the state or federal government would address and why?
So called "accountability" that only looks at one metric - standardized tests - we do not even attempt to collect real data like "how useful was x teacher or x course or x school to student y's long term success as a functioning well adjusted citizen?"
10. What piece of advice would you give to a new teacher just starting out in their career?
Believe in the philosophy of education and recognize that public schools are somewhat sick right now ... public schools do a lot of things that run antithesis to actual education
11. If money was no object, what would you want for your school to help the students you serve be more successful?
What I really want would take no money at all. Just freedom from inappropriate and inaccurate accountability.
The other thing I want (which does take money) is to be able to do many many field trips.
12. If you could have anybody in the world visit your school (alive or dead), who would it be?
No one really comes to mind - I would love to see my good friend Pat Hensley come by and we could catch up and talk education :)
Thank you to Steve for this interview. I can’t wait to come up your way to visit and catch up on everything!