New teacher has chemistry with SHS

First-time teacher says he has adjusted well to SHS

Chad Smith, Reporter

Sitting at his computer, John Davis scrolls through his e-mails just as any teacher does during the day. He appears to be cool, calm, and collected, preparing himself for the new school year.

Fresh out of a University of Indianapolis student teaching program at Ben Davis High School, Davis is no stranger to the classroom. Though this year, he is on his own for the first time, with his own students and classroom.

“It’s been tough,” Davis said. “It’s a lot of new things, a lot of stuff to learn, but it’s been a good experience so far. ” Davis said.

Davis is a new chemistry teacher at SHS, taking over the room once occupied by Mark Eccles, who retired at the end of the 2015-2016 school year. As Eccles’ replacement, Davis hopes to break new ground not only for himself but for his students, using all the knowledge he has in order to educate his students and ensure they have a successful year.

“Any time you replace a veteran teacher you have a lot to live up to,” Davis said.

One way Davis hopes to do this is through increased use of reading and writing in the classroom, as he believes it is an important skill for students to maintain. Along with teaching chemistry, Davis hopes to apply these skills to his lessons, giving students a better understanding of course material itself and why they are learning it.

“That’s something I really value, the ability to encourage students to read and write,” Davis said. “It’s one of the most important inventions of human beings.”

Using these skills, Davis wants students to be able to retain information and become better learners themselves, allowing them to struggle through problems with his guidance.

Science department head Mark Duncan has also taken notice of these strengths. He says Davis has a background in language and is going to incorporate that into his lessons, and is also very hands-on oriented.

“He is going to be working on adding some additional language components to the curriculum,” Duncan said.

One of Davis’ goals for this year is to have all his students pass his class, and maintain a B average in all his classes. This isn’t his only goal, as he says he’d also be content seeing students gain an interest further into chemistry or other sciences, or just develop a friendly relationship that goes beyond the classroom.

A defining quality of Davis is his age, especially when considering he teaches students less than 10 years younger than him. While some may look at this as a disadvantage in experience, he uses this attribute as a positive. Relating to students becomes easier Davis believes, as he better understands their jargon, what they experience, and the stress of being a high schooler.

“I’ve done college, I’ve done the college search recently, so I still have a pretty good idea of what you’re going through and what some of the struggles are,” Davis said. “I’m pretty relatable to you guys, we’re from a similar generation.”

Just as new students who come to SHS, adjusting to a different environment is just one of Davis’ tasks as a new teacher. Block scheduling is a notable change from teaching at other schools, making lesson planning a challenge. Technology used at SHS is also different, including tools such as Chromebooks and Google Classroom, adding another layer to the learning curve.

Despite these challenges, other teachers and students have been happy to help. In times of need, Davis has been able to ask others for assistance.

“Everybody is very welcoming, and they’ve really been helpful whenever I have questions, people are happy to answer them,” Davis said. “It’s just been a very friendly and welcoming environment.”