​AACT Member Spotlight: Michael Nocella

By AACT on April 1, 2020

Every month AACT will spotlight a passionate member who is dedicated to enhancing chemistry inside and outside the classroom. This month we spotlight Michael Nocella. He teaches chemistry and AP Chemistry at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois.

What do you do to remain current and bring the latest science into the classroom?

My favorite ways to remain current in the latest science are to read, participate in field site workshops, and talk with colleagues about what experiences they have had that excited them most about the field of science. I find that reading often increases my depth of knowledge in science, workshops enhance my applied and contextualized skill sets, and discussions with colleagues expand the narrative of science.

What fuels your passion for science and teaching?

Terra incognita. Science is an ongoing pursuit. It is infinite and beautiful. I am grateful that I get to share this endeavor with students as they write their own science narratives through their educational journey and experience scientific phenomena firsthand.

What are you most proud of in your work?

I am grateful for my experiences that have led me—personally and professionally—to embark on a racial equity and social justice journey. The personal reflection that has been stimulated by participating in affinity spaces has truly transformed the way I approach curriculum design and implementation. It is important to acknowledge the expansive ways of knowing and doing science and disrupt the exclusionary aspects of canonical science.

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

Justice. Teaching is a public service. It is important that we continually evaluate our roles relative to student needs on an individual and collective basis. Access to scientific knowledge and the ability to participate in science practices has been historically, and is currently, privileged. As educators, it is important that we use our position to leverage knowledge and resources so students have access to rigorous scientific experiences and the narratives of science that extend beyond those of Western Europeans.

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

[Remember to] Be a teenager.