Teacher of the Week: Mark Van Arsdale
The best teachers are the best learners — it’s a motto our Teacher of the Week lives by to help his students better understand science in the world around them.
“I want them to leave with a love of science,” said Mark Van Arsdale, science teacher at Eagle River High School. “Some of them, I may inspire them to go on and become scientists … for the rest of them, I want them to go on and not be afraid of science but also not misunderstanding science.”
Mr. Van Arsdale uses a hands-on approach to science and has new classroom activities almost every day. A typical day for his students involves lessons in photosynthesis and forensic science.
“Usually concepts like this are a lot scarier, especially when it’s AP classes,” said Kayla Godin, a student at Eagle River High School. “He takes time to make sure we understand it.”
Technology plays a big role in Van Arsdale’s lessons. He maintains a class website and uses it extensively for lesson planning and as a resource for students. If a student misses a class, they can find homework, videos and lecture notes online.
“To me, having your class stretched beyond the physical space just within this class room is a great way to expand learning,” Van Arsdale said.
He’s been teaching science for 18 years, and says because science is a subject that’s constantly evolving, he gets to teach something new every year.
What’s the secret to his success? Sharing his passion for science with students through hands-on activities.
“If you’re enjoying what you do, your students are going to enjoy what they’re doing as well,” Van Arsdale said.