From Higher Ed to High School: Industry Professionals at Eastern Christian High School
Dr Todd Elder, Honors Chemistry and STEAM
What is your schooling/experience? Where did you get your degree(s) from, etc.?
BS, CHemistry, Wheaton College
MS, Organic Chemistry, Univ. Kentucky
PhD, Medicinal Chemistry, Univ. Kentucky
Post Doc, Dept Neurology, Univ. Pennsylvania
What college(s)/university did you teach at before coming to Eastern Christian High School?
Prior to coming to ECHS, I worked in the chemical industry for ~25 years, starting as bench chemist working my way up to principal investigator (the equivalent of a research director) at several chemical companies. When one of the companies I worked for was bought out, I went through the alternate pathways to teaching.
What attracted you about Eastern Christian School? Why did you want to work here?
When my son came to ECHS, the STEAM program was about to be implemented. Having had numerous high school and college students intern at my last position, I was interested to see if ECHS could use some of the experiences I have had in industry. I volunteered to help out with the labs and experiments that the STEAM students perform. I enjoy interacting with students especially when looking at new ideas and concepts.
What difference are there between high school students and college students? Similarities?
That is hard to say. One might say, maturity levels or knowledge base, but I have worked with both high school and college student that excelled at both. The students that have worked with have all been science oriented so their desire to learn and get their hands in the lab have been high. Probably, the biggest difference would be that college students have begun to figure out what they want to do as a career.
What’s the most fun thing about working in a high school?
Hands down, interacting with the students.
What’s the most challenging?
For many years I have been tasked to solve difficult technical challenges. To do this, some of the basic concepts of chemistry have become so ingrained that I take it for granted. My biggest challenge is to try to see the material from the students point of view and describe that material so that it is clear to them.
How has your faith been integral to your work here?
To me, science and faith go hand in hand. The more I dig into elegance of the molecular world, the more I see the creativity of God. It is my hope that I can help students see the hand of God in creation.
95% of EC graduates go on to college/university. If you could give EC graduates one bit of advice for succeeding at the next level, what would it be?
My advice would be to prioritize your time. College offers a certain degree of freedom that will test most students, especially since there isn’t anyone there to tell you what to do. College life is exciting with all it has to offer. So be mindful of who your are and who you want to be.