AACT Member Spotlight: Darla Church

By AACT on July 5, 2023

Darla Church

Every month AACT spotlights a passionate member who is dedicated to enhancing chemistry inside and outside the classroom. This month, we spotlight Darla Church. She teaches chemistry, biology, and general science at EMMA Homeschool Resource Classes.

Tell us about yourself.

First of all, I am a wife and mother of four terrific children! Although I taught biology and chemistry in a public high school for six and a half years, I have 16 years of teaching experience as a homeschool mom. My oldest two children are in college, and the younger two are in high school.

From the beginning of our homeschool journey, my children have been involved in EMMA Homeschool Resource Classes so that they could enjoy learning with friends once a week. I have been blessed to teach science classes there for the last eight years. Currently, I teach high school biology and chemistry as well as science classes for third graders and sixth graders.

Teaching high school science courses at EMMA is an interesting endeavor. We meet for a two-hour session once a week. During this time, we go over the content quickly and then do a lab. With such limited class time, students absolutely must do their reading and get the general ideas on their own before class. While this is a challenging way to take courses as a teenager, it is good preparation for college.

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

I have wanted to be a teacher since high school. My teachers were excellent role models who worked hard to facilitate learning. Since I always enjoyed school, I decided that teaching would be the best way for me to serve others.

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

For years I have appreciated the free resources AACT offers to educators online. In 2021, I became more involved when I was blessed with the opportunity to participate in Science Coaches. This program pairs chemistry teachers with chemists in universities or industry. The coaches are available to assist the teachers with questions on content, safety, lab issues, and more. My coach, Luke Humble, has been a great help as he has shared what he learned from teaching chemistry labs at Wake Forest University. Now he is working with metals and has different experiences to share. My students have benefited not only because they enjoyed hearing him speak to the class but also because his input has led to better labs.

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

To build positive relationships with students, I must show that I care for them, so I strive to treat them as I would like to be treated. Kind words, fair policies, and a sense of humor are all helpful.

Since I am teaching homeschooled students, their parents are the ones who are ultimately responsible for their learning. I keep in touch with parents mainly via email in order to ensure clarity on assignments and to provide as many resources as I can to help them teach their children at home. When questions arise, parents can email, text, or call me for help.

What fuels your passion for science and teaching?

Learning about science and teaching science bring great joy. When I look at how amazing the natural world is, I stand in awe of it and feel closer to God.