AACT Member Spotlight: Eleanor Byers

By AACT on May 4, 2022

Eleanor Byers

Every month AACT spotlights a passionate member who is dedicated to enhancing chemistry inside and outside the classroom. This month, we spotlight Eleanor Byers. She teaches Chemistry at Woodbridge Senior High School in Woodbridge, VA.

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

I became a teacher to fulfill my lifelong passion and dream. I have wanted to be a teacher since before I went to kindergarten. Growing up, I had a classroom in my basement, complete with an overhead projector and a class of made-up students. I loved being at school and knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life in school. After taking chemistry in high school, and being influenced by my own fantastic teacher, I finally knew what I wanted to teach. I became a teacher to share my love of chemistry with my students. I want to inspire students to be amazed by, experiment with, and feel confident in science.

What fuels your passion for science and teaching?

My students! I have my own deep love for chemistry and get excited about science and how the world works. I want to pass even a little bit of this enthusiasm on to my students. Science is a mind-expanding subject--there are always new things to learn and share with others. Watching students learn how to more knowledgeably view and interact with the world around them is a beautiful and indescribable experience.

What are you most proud of in your work?

I am especially proud of being a trustworthy adult my students can come and talk to. I have made it very clear that I care not only about my students academically, but also about them as people. It is a privilege to be known as approachable and a good listener. I am also very proud of introducing students to chemistry in a way that shows it is not a "scary" or "intimidating" science. It is so wonderful to hear students have their negative preconceptions about chemistry broken down. I once had a student say, "Why is this so easy? I thought chemistry was supposed to be hard, but you make it easy," which I will never forget.

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

Perseverance, curiosity, problem-solving.

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

Explore! In chemistry, it is easy to get bogged down in the nitty-gritty details of a particular reaction or field. Looking beyond the familiar is eye-opening. Interdisciplinary work is an incredible way to accomplish exploration. For example, I love incorporating art into science or looking at the intersection between chemistry and technology.