swim, chem, baseball, I talk with my hands
I remember the first chemistry class I ever taught. I remember so many details that it would shock my family, as I am regularly accused of forgetting almost any detail shared with me today. It was the second period of the day (I didn’t teach “A” period that year) and it was an older chemistry room with shelves full of chemicals lining the walls of the classroom. The chalk board was totally old-school, and I used a big, fatty, white chalk on a green surface. I wrote my name on the front (Mr. Quinton!) just like I had seen in so many TV shows and movies. Yet, what I truly take away is the fact that I met students for the first time. I was giddy with excitement.
The star of this class was Adam Wallace, and he did everything well. I often wonder what happened to him or if he even remembers that class or anything about the course and it’s novice instructor. But he kicked ass in a way that made me think that I should keep a list of the students who truly excelled. From this idea was born the Periodic Table Hall of Fame. [LINK]
For a few years the HoF was a simply a file that I kept on my computer that I would read to students at the end of the year. It wasn’t until I jumped deep into web design that I thought about publishing this in any sort of accessible manner. And it was about that time that I understood that I needed a clear set of criteria. By then I had taught in four different high schools and I wanted a way to compensate for that. Well, it wasn’t possible, even though I kept grade records, because it meant more than that to me.
Every school has a process by which awards are handed out to students and I have rarely felt satisfied with the selection process. I am still in disbelief that my current school until recently had a system that rewarded so many students that the awards became meaningless. As a department head I initiated a set of awards to add real meaning in honoring exiting seniors. If there is one thing I can count on at this school it is the fact that any good idea will be punished and I have been kicked many times for my attempts to applaud student efforts.
But the HoF lives on and this year inducts three new members. The criteria acknowledges both steady success throughout the year as well as excellence on the final exam. Congratulations to the three of them! And I salute all of the amazing work done by this year’s group of students – none of you will be forgotten.