Thomas Evangelist, Physical Science
For starters, please tell us a bit about your own educational background, and what drew you to become
a Chemistry teacher?
I wanted to be a teacher ever since my high school days. My French teacher used to let me teach his class every
now and again while I was a junior in high school. Also, my AP Chemistry teacher in high school was terrific. He
was the deciding factor. After completing the science program at Madison High School in 1990, I earned a BA
in Chemical Education, MA in Chemical Education, and Advance Certificate in supervising high schools - all in the
1990's and all at Brooklyn College!
How did you come to teach at Tech, how long you have been there, and when did you become AP of Chemistry?
I was actually hired at Midwood High School first, but I was bumped and excessed from the job. I was able to find a spot here on Sept 12, 1995 and have never looked back. I became the Assistant Principal of the Science Dept. in September 2002.
What is your favorite thing about teaching at Tech, and what do you see as the greatest challenge?
The greatest thing about teaching here is keeping the kids challenged. If you don't challenge them, then you have bored students who will cause trouble. However, the challenge cannot overwhelm them at the same time. Finding that fine line is key. Now that the bar has been raised for educators, it has kept me even more honest in doing a better job day after day.
What do you do with kids who just "don't get" chemistry?
They do get it. I make sure that I teach it so that it happens the right way the first time. For those who might not get it, I have my office open during the day. As long as I'm in, the door is open to them. Usually the questions that the students ask in class cover a review of the tougher points and either I, or someone else, in class will clarify.
Some parents might be surprised to find out that in addition to teaching Chemistry, you also coach ice hockey at Tech.
There really is no hockey team at the school. I volunteer coach at a rink and any Tech students who join the league are placed on my team.
I have kids from other schools on the team that I coach. I still play the sport and at a higher level of men's hockey. I still train in the summer, one of the camps with the goaltending coach of the Washington Capitals. I cannot explain why I do it, but I just like it. The kids enjoy it, I enjoy it, so it works. My other secret is that I'm an amateur astronomer. This is another weird piece to the combination. Again, it is just another fun, harmless hobby.
If you were forced to choose between chemistry and ice hockey, which would you choose?
If I had to choose, chemistry goes out the window. Hockey is faster, provides more exercise, and is more fun. Plus, you cannot win a Stanley Cup with chemicals. I could teach another subject, like astronomy, with ease and still bring the same elements to the classroom. I have Islanders season tickets and wouldn't give those up for anything - especially when they are coming to the Barclay's center next year. Sorry chemistry - I love you and all, but hockey wins.