AACT Member Spotlight: Linda Cummings

By AACT on October 1, 2019

Linda CummingsEvery month AACT spotlights a passionate member who is dedicated to enhancing chemistry inside and outside the classroom. This month we spotlight Linda Cummings, Chemistry Instructor at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

Linda has taught high school chemistry for 14 years at The Classical Academy, a charter school in Colorado Springs. You may have see Linda's chemistry education tweets or heard her present at BCCE. She is also an AP Chemistry Reader, Table Reader, and item writer, and has served on the committee to write the ACS 2019 HS Exam. Linda is a consultant with the National Math and Science Initiative and is currently a full-time instructor of chemistry at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

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

I became a teacher under duress. I was dealing with some personal problems, and needed a job, and I had enjoyed substitute teaching at an international school in Bangkok. So I took the plunge. Before that I never thought I’d be a teacher!

What rewards to you get from teaching?

I love the relationships I have with students, the “aha!” moments, and learning about their lives. I also find chemistry so amazing and fascinating that I never tire of teaching it and learning more about it.

What fuels your passion for science and teaching?

In this day and age science is fighting a war against anti-science sentiment and the tendency of people to accept anything they see on the Internet without questioning. I am passionate about teaching students how to think critically for themselves. In order to think critically about the physical world, a strong knowledge-base in chemistry is important. Helping students understand difficult chemistry topics really fuels my passion to continue teaching chemistry.

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

Before AACT was a reality, I spoke to a number of people at ACS meetings about the need for real support of high school teachers in chemistry. Chem Clubs and ChemMatters magazines were not nearly enough. So I HAD to join when they created AACT! The benefits are myriad – curated materials to use in the classroom, webinars on a variety of topics, and support from others who understand the realities of a chemistry classroom.

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

My words of wisdom to anyone, not just chemists, is to learn to be happy where and when you are, and not wait for something to happen or someone to change. Teaching is HARD, so you have to find the joy, every day. Meanwhile, if you want to see change in your life, lay down the groundwork. In my case, I attended chemistry education conferences, often as a presenter, completed my masters degree, and began tweeting about chemistry in order to grow as a chemical educator. These led to my new job as a chemistry instructor at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.