AACT Member Spotlight: Anne Huntress

By AACT on October 6, 2021

Anne Huntress

Every month AACT spotlights a passionate member who is dedicated to enhancing chemistry inside and outside the classroom. This month, we spotlight Anne Huntress. She teaches Chemistry and Physics at South Lewis Central School in Turin, New York.

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

My parents were both teachers so I knew the rigors that the job entailed. However, upon high school graduation, I did not know what I wanted to do with my life. I had eliminated teaching as a college major because I didn't want to continue to have to deal with teenagers! I went to college as a Physics major but soon realized I had a knack for explaining what I considered to be simple concepts to my peers. I made a good amount of money tutoring. When the tutoring sessions became classes of 10–15 students, I realized that teaching may in fact be the path my life would be taking. Having obtained a degree in Secondary Education: Physics and a minor in Chemistry, I was employed to teach both. I have found Physics to be Phun but it turns out that Chemistry is Cool!

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

Back in the late 1990s, I was a Physics major at Plattsburgh State University. To earn a little extra cash, I applied to participate in a program called "Science Van" which was a group of undergraduate students that would create a fun, exciting demonstration-based show to present to area third grade classes. I was accepted and ended up using it as an elective course for two years! Each week, we came up with 6–8 engaging demonstrations, organized materials, and traveled to enthusiastic crowds. Not only did I learn about the intricacies of crowd engagement but also honed my skills at simply explaining scientific concepts. I was hooked on being an educator! I still use some of those demonstrations (galvanized pennies, rainbow test tubes, water to wine) but have added an inquiry-based discovery process so my students can enjoy the phenomenon even more.

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

A friend recommended AACT to me years ago and I have eagerly been involved ever since. The resources and support associated with ChemClub, Science Coaches, and the ChemClub Community Activities Grant have not only sparked interest in my extracurricular group but have impacted all my classes, from remedial to college-level, with the resources to investigate their interests that go above and beyond the curriculum. I was only able to attend one conference a few years ago, but I still remember many of the activities and use them every year. I look forward to in-person meetings again to gain more insight into NGSS implementation!

What fuels your passion for science and teaching?

The students, the students, the students! They come from such a vast array of living situations but have shown amazing resilience in these last few years. They may come in tired or confused yet can still be amazed, inspired, and motivated to discover new ideas. Seeing eyes light up with curiosity is all the motivation I need to keep planning, organizing, creating, learning, and striving to become a better educator.

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

Systematic creativity and enthusiasm