I was looking through my high school yearbook from my senior year in high school. As I read through what people had written, I found this note.
It’s an interesting note for for a couple of reasons. One, I am now teaching chemistry, and I am finishing my ninth year of teaching. I guess helping others understand has always been an interest of mine – especially science. Two, I had my own struggles in chemistry, and I was able to be successful because of my teacher, Mr. Wedel.
At my high school, students generally took biology freshmen year and chemistry sophomore year. Because I went to a private school my freshmen year, I took biology sophomore year and started chemistry my junior year. I was in honors chemistry, and I really enjoyed the class. However, I had some health issues in high school that caused me to miss a lot of school. I was even on hospital/home bound for a few months. I tried switching from honors chem to CP chem, but that didn’t work out well because they were following a different instructional calendar. So, I dropped out of chemistry my junior year and took a science independent research class in its place.
My senior year, I once again enrolled in honors chemistry. During the first semester of the year, I was still having some health issues and missed quite a bit of school. It was nearing the end of the semester, and there was no way I could make up all of my work in time. However, Mr. Wedel, my chemistry teachers (both times), offered me a chance to stay in the class. He believed in me and knew I could do the work and learn the content. He said that if I passed the semester final, I would pass the semester. Well, I did (in fact, I made a “B” on the final). I then went on to do really well second semester (making an “A”) because I didn’t have any absences.
I will forever be grateful to Mr. Wedel for giving me that chance and for believing in me. Plus, I really loved his class. He used to have the best test review games, we did awesome labs, and he had some really cool demos. My favorite thing he taught me was about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (you can know the speed of a subatomic particle or its location, but not both – part of quantum mechanics).
But really, the best thing he taught me wasn’t even about chemistry, and it has made me a better teacher. He taught me to believe in students and to give students second, third, fourth chances. To not let a student give up, and to keep working. And I’m pretty sure my policy of passing the final means passing the class no matter what your grade was prior to that was heavily influenced by him.
So thank you, Mr. Wedel, for being such an awesome chemistry teacher, and thank you for showing me how to be a great teacher!