AACT Member Spotlight: Amy Klopf

By AACT on March 5, 2024

Amy Klopf

Every month AACT spotlights a passionate member who is dedicated to enhancing chemistry inside and outside the classroom. This month, we spotlight Amy Klopf. She is the Dean of Students and MTSS Coordinator at Coleman Elementary School in Coleman, MI.

Tell us about yourself.

I was a teacher at Coleman schools for 13 years. Last year, I completed my 21st year as a 6th-grade science teacher! This year, I transitioned to the Dean of Students and MTSS Coordinator at Coleman Elementary School. 

Why did you become a teacher? Did you always want to teach?

I have always wanted to be a teacher... I know it sounds very cliche, but it's true!

Share a story from your past that led to your choosing your field of work.

As a high schooler, I ended up teaching in a first-grade classroom because the teacher I was helping got very sick. I had been with the class since the beginning of the school year. The school hired a sub and I taught the first hours of the day.

Science is a totally new story though! When I first started this journey I would never have thought science would be my niche, but I have grown to love it, especially outdoor education. Bringing the outside world in, applying knowledge and investigation instead of the traditional "sit and git" created a whole new world for me. Just recently, I went back to school to get an Associate Degree in Science because I wanted to know even more!

    Why did you become involved with AACT? What are the benefits of being involved?

    I started with AACT as part of the Science Coaches program. Having real-life scientists come into my classroom and students see that the "science" they are learning actually matters in the real world. I have continued being a member because I just can't stop learning myself and want to share that with my students!

    What is your approach to building a meaningful relationship with your students and their parents?

    Building relationships through interest. Just meeting parents as the teacher isn't enough; you need to show families and students that you care by going to ball games, asking about vacations, and allowing for them to just share when they have needs outside of the school creates the strongest relationships and trust bonds.

    What topic do you find hardest for students? How do you teach it?

    One topic that fluctuated in my classroom was understanding molecular makeup. Getting the idea that the tiniest of things build together to create everything around us really pushes their mindset. And the idea that it takes millions upon millions to make just a single drop of water just amazes them. Engaging them to question their real-world phenomena and try to investigate a solution to the how and why has been a strategy that works the most for me.

    How do you monitor the progress of your students? How do you ensure underperformers excel?

    I monitor progress through pre- and post-assessments. Sharing that progress with students so that they see that they really did learn something has been real encouraging. Using students who are usually underperformers as examples of progress gives them encouragement as well as giving the other students a vision of how everyone has a genius.

    What do you do to remain current and bring the latest science into the classroom?

    To remain current, I engaged in fellowships, leadership opportunities, conferences, college classes, and reading... lots and lots of reading! I like to share what I find with colleagues and students.

    What are you most proud of in your work?

    Before stepping out of the classroom, I had finally found that place where students couldn't wait to come to school. My classroom was a place where students finally wanted to get dirty and also make the connections between all their work not just one specific subject. They loved learning!

    What fuels your passion for science and teaching?

    My students! I love seeing them grab onto what we are working on and push even my thinking about subjects and topics.

    In three words, what would your students say they learned from you?

    Compassion, love of learning, science

    If you could pass on one word of wisdom to other chemists what would it be?

    Commit to your passion. Don't ever stop learning and pushing for more! Apply to the real world.