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Meet Myron – Chemistry Teacher

Myron teaching“If anyone told me that I was going to be a teacher, I would have just laughed at them.” But, after 23 years in manufacturing, Myron returned to his hometown of Berne, Indiana, to become the chemistry teacher at his alma mater.

Upon graduating with an honors degree in chemistry, Myron went into research and development for a manufacturing company as a ceramics engineer. His plan was to “work one place and work until you die, and die there.” His career progressed to a trouble shooter, requiring him to travel 90% of the time. “Our company had 175 facilities around the world, and I was in all of them except for two.”

Then, as his company offered him another promotion, Myron did the unexpected and resigned. At the time he was a plant manager in Chicago overseeing 1,500 employees. The promotion would have propelled him into a vice president position and a seven figure income. So, why quit?

Well, at home, Myron and his wife of 27 years had two daughters, who at that time were in the 3rd and 6th grades, and he was missing them grow up. “I said this isn’t what life is, and God had been dealing with me.” The promotion would have required frequent moves around the country and across the world. And, Myron wanted his girls “to grow up with roots like I had.”

So, Myron and his family moved back to Indiana. After a short stint working construction, Myron started a small business as a consultant in the manufacturing field. The business flourished and once again Myron was traveling the majority of the time, and was only home for Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day. This wasn’t the change he and his wife hoped for when they moved back to Berne.

Myron was involved in his girls’ school, though, as a member of the school board. That’s how he learned that the high school’s chemistry program was in danger of being cut (due to an unfilled teaching position), an idea Myron strongly opposed. “We just went round and round for six months, and one day out of frustration she (the superintendent) goes—‘you have a chemistry degree, you teach the course’. Up to that point if anyone told me that I was going to be a teacher, I would have just laughed at them.”

After much prayer, Myron applied for the position and was offered the job even though he didn’t have a teaching license…yet. He is now in his third year of teaching chemistry and has one class left in Taylor’s Transition to Teaching program.

“Because I worked as an engineer for so long, I research things to death. I’m just anal retentive about it. I checked into probably 9 or 10 programs.” Myron was looking for a program that was online so he wouldn’t have to spend time away from his family. He also wanted a program that was fully independent—not cohort style classes. And, his final requirement was that his student teaching would be waived since he was already teaching. Taylor had the only program that met these requirements.

“I looked at Taylor’s program and talked with Dr. Siler. I probably asked him the same question 10 times. And that question was—are you serious? I don’t have to follow a cohort? I can do this on my own time? I just have six months to complete the class?” Dr. Siler’s response—“yes.”

This format sounded “too good to be true.” Myron goes on to describe the program’s flexibility in true teacher form with this word picture—“If you have a glass full of marbles and the marbles are all of the things that you need to do, and you are going to try to fit another marble in, but the thing is completely full and you can’t fit another marble in there. Well, the only way you can fit it in is actually if you crush up that marble and pour it in as a powder—it fills in all the gaps. And the freedoms within the Transition to Teaching program at Taylor allow me to crush it up and fill it in between the gaps. That’s what I love about Taylor’s program—is that I can fit it in wherever it fits.”

Concerning the program itself, Myron has found it useful as he “pulled little things out of it here and there” to apply in his classroom. The classroom management and discipline course was especially helpful as he could practically apply what he was learning, and it was thought provoking spiritually.

Myron describes himself as “very independent” so he doesn’t often pursue interaction with his professors concerning homework, but does go to them for advice. “She (a professor) teaches second graders, and I’ll shoot her an email saying—‘How would you handle this in your classroom?’—because a lot of times high school students act like second graders.” However, regarding anytime he did have a class-related question, he says: “I’d just shoot them an email, and it was usually responded to within a day—which I think is really good.”

Reflecting on his change in career, Myron says: “I actually enjoy teaching more than I did manufacturing, which I didn’t think I could do. What I enjoy is just seeing the kids get excited about learning—to really jump in.” And Myron has jumped in too. He has participated in several school-wide improvement initiatives, but he’s most excited about Dots in Blue Water—a student conceptualized, student driven program headed up in the science department. These students designed and installed five water purifiers that have provided clean water for thousands of Haitians.

Myron and his wife hope to “keep riding this adventure” in Berne and at South Adams for a while longer. He enjoys his job, is involved in the community and his church, and most all gets to spend more time with his family. One thing he added from his family’s perspective is that “they love Taylor’s program because I can still be a dad, a husband.”