AACT Member Spotlight: Matt Perekupka
By AACT on August 31, 2022
Every month AACT spotlights a passionate member who is dedicated to enhancing chemistry inside and outside the classroom. This month, we spotlight current AACT President Matt Perekupka. He teaches chemistry and AP Chemistry at Cinnaminson High School in Cinnaminson, NJ.
Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in Springfield, Delaware county. I graduated from Millersville University in 2005 with a bachelor's in chemistry. In 2019, I earned a Masters in Education Administration from Fort Hays State University. I have been teaching all levels of chemistry at Cinnaminson High School in New Jersey for 17 years. During that time, I coached baseball, softball, lacrosse, football, and tennis. I have also served as the school's student council advisor and special events coordinator, which allows me to plan, organize, and facilitate large events at my school. I feel it is very important to get involved in extracurricular activities to get the most enjoyment out of being an educator.
What is your approach to building a meaningful relationship with your students and their parents?
I feel the best way to build meaningful relationships with anyone is through compassion. I have always been taught it is more important to be a good listener than a speaker. Everyone has a different story, and if you truly make an effort to understand that story, it's a great starting point in creating a meaningful connection. I try to create a classroom environment where everyone feels comfortable, accepted, and safe. Nobody wants to go to a place where they feel uncomfortable and it is almost impossible to learn in such an environment. I understand that each of my students experiences the school day differently and leaves the building with their own unique stories and sets of circumstances. Respect, compassion, and kindness are expected in my classroom to provide students with an opportunity to be themselves.
If you could pass on one word of wisdom to other chemists, what would it be?
Collaborate and get involved! I have found that getting involved in professional organizations such as AACT has helped me connect with some amazing people from all over the country. Optimism, positivity, and passion for teaching are infectious, and it has been wonderful being around so many great teachers who love what they do!
What fuels your passion for science and teaching?
My students fuel my passion for teaching. I try to offer them a comfortable place to learn and have fun while they do it, and that quest fuels what I love to do. My curiosity and desire to learn fuels my passion for science. I never really got into watching mindless TV. I like to read or watch material that allows me to learn about something or how to do something.
In three words, what would your students say they learned from you?
To be yourself!