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  July 4,  2005
Volume 83, Number 27
p. 35



Throughout my time as a candidate or member of the presidential succession, ACS members have told me about their concern for high school chemistry education. High school teachers have made a huge difference in the lives of a number of our members--including me. I've made secondary education an important focus of my year as president, and I would like to tell you about the progress of two projects in my agenda.

SECOND-CAREER TEACHERS. In most places in the U.S., there is a shortage of chemistry teachers with a strong chemistry background. In fact, about 50% of high school chemistry teachers have less than a minor in chemistry. Many of those who are teaching "out of field" are wonderful, dedicated teachers, but research shows that, all other things being equal, a person teaching in his or her field of expertise makes a better teacher. The knowledge and the passion come through.

Over the past two years, I've seen an increasing number of early retirees and midcareer industrial scientists who are interested in making a transition to a second career in high school teaching. Many of them, however, find it difficult to figure out how to get started. And some are just unsure if it's the right thing for them.

To help members with the transition, we held a symposium at the ACS national meeting in San Diego to answer the frequently asked questions about a second career as a high school teacher. That symposium included presentations on the need for teachers, the route to certification, and what to expect along the way. Most important, teachers who have made the transition from another career to teaching shared their experiences and advice. Their message, by the way, is, "It's tough, especially at first. But it's worth it."

A summary of the symposium can be found at the Journal of Chemical Education website, jchemed.chem.wisc.edu. A summary of certification requirements and other tidbits can be found on the ACS website at chemistry.org/education in the High School section.

I'm committed to helping people who want to teach to find a way to do so. If you think you might be one of them, visit the website or send me an e-mail at bill_carroll@ oxy.com.

High school teachers have made a huge difference in the lives of a number of our members--including me. I've made secondary education an important focus of my year as president.

CHEMISTRY TEACHER CONNECTIONS. Over the past three years, I've talked to lots of teachers about the value of ACS as a resource for them. They told me that they know we have great materials for teachers on our website, but they have a hard time finding them. They explain that they have limited time and limited resources, and teaching aids must be easily accessible, immediately usable, affordable, tried, and true. And full membership in the society, most teachers told me, does not fit their needs for the price.

There's good news. The Division of Chemical Education (CHED), the Journal of Chemical Education (JCE) and the ACS Education staff have created an exciting new product called Chemistry Teacher Connections. CTC combines an affiliate membership in CHED with a subscription to JCE Online High School Chemical Learning Information Center (HS CLIC).

Affiliate membership in CHED affords the right to vote for chair-elect, treasurer, and member-at-large (and the right to run for these offices) as well as a subscription to the CHED newsletter. JCE Online HS CLIC provides an online version of the CLIC section of JCE--articles that are of interest to high school teachers are marked as such in the table of contents--from 1996 to the present.

CTC has two purposes. First, it provides information that high school teachers can use in the form in which they would like to receive it. Second, and just as important, it helps bring ACS and high school teachers closer together. We all have something to gain from this closeness.

We hope the teachers find value in the community of ACS. To that end, we recently changed the society's constitution and bylaws to make it easier for teachers to become members. We are also taking a hard look at the value proposition the society offers teachers. There clearly is value for ACS: We gain advocates for chemistry and a window on the next generation.

CTC will be highlighted at the Washington, D.C., national meeting this August. In the meantime, teachers can subscribe by going to the JCE website at store.jce.divched.org. Please consider passing the word to the high school teachers in your local section. Better yet, consider "adopting" a teacher and introducing him or her to ACS by donating a subscription to CTC.

COMING ATTRACTIONS. In addition to working for greater involvement of high school teachers, we're also working on products for high school students. Look for the ACS Education Division to roll out a pilot for high school chemistry clubs this fall. And look for me to promote it on the road during my Extreme National Chemistry Week Tour: 2005. More on that in a few weeks.


ACS Comments, which appear in C&EN from time to time, are written by society officers and committee chairs. They are available on C&EN Online at http://www.cen-online.org/html/acscomments.html. Comments are archived back to 2000.

Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of the ACS Board
  Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2005

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