A conversation with Mass Academy’s physics teacher
As all students at Mass Academy can vouch for, coming to this school is a big academic and social change. Teaching at the academy is also unlike teaching at any other public school in Massachusetts, as Mass Academy has a smaller student population, university connections, and a STEM focused curriculum. Entering this school as a new teacher can be somewhat daunting, and we turned to Mrs. Maureen Chase, the new physics teacher, to learn more about her experience so far.
Chase entered the academy with an optimistic mindset, eager to teach a driven and motivated group of students. We conducted a brief interview to learn more about her, her teaching background, motivations, and overall experience as a new teacher at the school. The questions we asked her along with her responses are featured below.
Chase has been a teacher for 21 years, and spent the first ten of these years in the math department before switching to the sciences. It is obvious that she has a tremendous amount of dedication and passion for both teaching and the STEM field. In the years at Quabbin Regional High School, she taught a total of nearly 28 different classes, including biology and AP chemistry.
Here at Mass Academy, she teaches only one subject – physics. Although this is a big change for her, Chase has found that she is able to truly hone in on the subject, devoting all her time and attention to it. Along with this, the class size at this school has made a huge difference for her. Having only 50 students as opposed to the hundreds she had prior has changed the dynamic between her and her students.
“The Mass Academy community is like a big family,” said Chase.
For Chase, building connections with her students is one of the most important parts of her job.
“I value creating bonds with my students and getting to know them on a personal level,” she said.
She feels that the Camp Bournedale experience at the beginning of the year truly brought her students together, and she was glad to have witnessed new friendships being formed.
Chase’s answer when asked her favorite part about MAMS was short and sweet:
“My favorite part of Mass Academy is the people,” she said.
She is grateful to have the opportunity to work with such an eager group of students, ones who are passionate about learning and willing to challenge themselves. Additionally, the nine members of the Mass Academy faculty are not just her colleagues but some of her closest friends.
“I was hesitant about leaving my teacher friends whom I’d grown close to at my previous school, but felt instantly welcomed here at the academy,” she said.
In order to keep her students motivated, Chase feels that it is important to find what she calls the “sweet spot” with learning.
“I like to maintain a balanced learning environment in which my students are challenged, but not to the point where they are overwhelmed,” she said.
She believes that by ensuring that each and every one of her students finds this sweet spot, it will keep them engaged and interested in the subject.
Chase has always been interested in teaching from a young age, stemming from her love for math. In high school, she considered math to be her area of specialty. She enjoyed the creative aspects of this subject and the many ways to approach a problem and derive an answer.
“I wanted to share my love for the subject with others and found that teaching was the best way to do that,” said Chase.
In order to strengthen bonds between students and teachers, Chase suggests having more student-teacher activities.
“I’d like to suggest student-teacher lunches, as it would give students the opportunity to chat with their teachers while sharing a meal together,” said Chase.
Additionally, Chase recently started a crocheting club that meets after school on Tuesdays. Through this extracurricular activity, she gets to know her students better, learn more about who they are, and form personal connections with them.
Overall, Chase loves the Mass Academy experience and truly enjoys being a teacher here. While teaching at this school is very different from her prior school, she is excited by the change. The students and faculty members have welcomed her and made her time here memorable.
Naga Vikram and Nihitha Reddy
Junior Staff Writers