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Jeffrey Spencer

2011 Fellow
Vista Peak Preparatory High School
Aurora, Colorado

Jeffrey Spencer is shifting students’ skewed perception of science one classroom at a time. Jeffrey’s passion to go beyond numbers and equations to create a deeper student understanding is his key to becoming an effective educator in the future.  Having personally experienced and overcome a struggle to develop conceptual understanding of science, Jeffrey finds that the right mix of knowledge, tools and engagement can create a classroom full of curious students.

As a “confused freshman,” Jeffrey pursued science and found the classroom disengaging from a lack of knowledge past formulas.  He was set on pursuing a career in research chemistry and yet something was missing.  Leading science activities as a YMCA camp counselor, Jeffrey witnessed how enthusiastic children can be about science and was inspired “to reconcile working with chemicals and working with people.”As a University of Illinois master’s student, Jeffrey worked for the Merit program which trained him in teaching discussion-based courses that focused on conceptual understanding.  His favorite teaching moment to date occurred when presented his students with a laboratory experiment that purposefully contained fundamental errors.  Jeffrey watched his students begin to “think like scientists – trying different experiments and cultivating different views to arrive at a common goal.”

Jeffrey graduated from Hononegah Community High School in Rockton, Ill., and earned his BS from the University of Illinois.  The first person in his university program to study chemistry abroad, Jeffrey traveled to France to do research on an anti-fungal drug.

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If we are to change our nation’s view on science, we need to enlist teachers who know their content and can portray the information in a versatile manner.

Jeffrey Spencer
2011 Fellow