AWHS administrators search for new chemistry teachers

Two+students+of+chemistry+teacher+Dr.+Gelers+collaborate+on+a+class+assignment+while+the+rest+of+the+class+works+outside.

Naomi Betz

Two students of chemistry teacher Dr. Gelers collaborate on a class assignment while the rest of the class works outside.

As two out of three AWHS chemistry teachers set plans for their retirement, administrators find themselves in a familiar situation: hiring new teachers. Every year, the AWHS administration sorts through many applications to properly select teachers to guide their students and community. This process for finding the next chemistry teacher includes filtering candidates through a 5-step process of posting the job, receiving applications, screening applicants, and lastly, selecting.

Among other colleges that AWHS grads may want to attend, University of California (UC) schools require one year of chemistry for admission. AWHS offers this course (called Chemistry of Life) along with more advanced courses, like AP Chemistry to fill these needs. AWHS administration is currently considering many new potential applicants for this position, including other current AWHS science teachers. According to AWHS Principal, LaSandra White, the in-depth process of hiring a new teacher is crucial to finding someone that will help students reach high levels of academic achievement.. The first priority for these positions belongs to teachers who already work in the Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD) school district, as they are experienced in the community.

I appreciate my chemistry teacher’s effort to try to be closer to the students and befriend them. [Dr. Geler] always offers extra help when someone needs it, especially with their grades. Personally, I think a fun environment is important in a class,”

— Ingrid Wahlstrom

“The process begins with an opportunity for other teachers in the district to transfer, and then it opens up to the outside. The job is posted, people apply, and we screen applicants, interview, and select the most qualified candidate,” White said.

Aside from current staff, AWHS administrators also create postings for outside hires through a website called EDJOIN. The website lets people choose their preferred position in a school environment with a range of job options.

The next step in the school’s hiring process is to screen the available applicants, ensuring that the one selected best fits the needs of the school. AWHS administrators take into account the personality of the applicant, checking for anything that might prevent them from creating an equal classroom environment where everyone is treated as an equal. White believes that there are certain characteristics that administrators look for, including having a focus on equity.

“[We are looking for teaching] experience and training that aligns with our district and site mission and goals, with an anti-racist and equity focus to support the success and achievement of all students,” White said.

Dr. Gelers first period chemistry class, located in room 414, gathers in groups to work on an assignment. (Naomi Betz)

Sophomore Ingrid Wahlstrom is currently taking chemistry with Dr. Elizabeth Geler. She believes it’s important for teachers to put in extra effort in emailing and communicating with students outside of school. Ingrid will take AP Chemistry next year and she hopes the next chemistry teacher will provide a safe environment in the classroom just as Dr. Geler has done for her. 

“I appreciate my chemistry teacher’s effort to try to be closer to the students and befriend them. [Dr. Geler] always offers extra help when someone needs it, especially with their grades. Personally, I think a fun environment is important in a class,” Ingrid said.

Ingrid believes AWHS administrators should search for teachers based on students’ desires to learn from an educator who they trust will provide the necessary class curriculum in an accurate and engaging manner.

“When hiring a new teacher it’s important to have someone who understands [the curriculum], especially with hard subjects…Learning is more effective when you trust the person teaching you,” Ingrid said.

While many different students and staff have different ideas of what a teacher should look like, administrators use their usual methods to select new Chemistry teachers for the 2022-2023 school year. Students wish that the next chemistry teacher is someone who brings care and passion into the class environment.