New science teacher is passionate about teaching and the environment in Biddeford

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New science teacher is passionate about teaching and the environment in Biddeford

Alexis Thompson, Staff Writer

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In the path of life, most people transition from high school to college as they move forward.

This is not the case for Dr. Joshua Williams, a new teacher here in Biddeford, who moved from teaching college classes at Virginia Institute of Marine Science to teaching physics at Biddeford High School.

“When I was a sophomore in college, I worked in a lab in the university,” said Williams.  “We were looking at the changes of beaches over time, which was part of oceanography.”

Williams realized he wanted to teach science when he found his passion for oceanography in college. He took that passion into teaching when he started teaching classes at Texas A&M- Galveston. Williams said he taught labs in oceanography, marine geology and geophysics, physics, and sedimentary processes.

“Generally, the classroom environment for a laboratory class at the universities were similar to an upper-level class conducting a lab in high school [like] chemistry or physics,” said Williams. “There is typically a short lecture and set-up instruction, then students break into groups and work while I would walk around and ask questions/help.”

Williams spoke highly about his experiences teaching at a college level; he also enjoys his time here at Biddeford High.

“I enjoy the diversity of students… freshman CS to senior AP,” Williams said.

His past experiences with college students gave him a head start on what it would be like teaching the advanced placement classes. College education and high school education are very different.

“I would not say I prefer either better than the other. They both have advantages and disadvantages. The maturity level is different, and certainly in general–college students are more motivated to complete work,” Williams said, “I enjoy the challenge of engaging high school students, who may not care about the subject.”

Williams said he loves knowing that he is able to teach kids new material. He gets to see the change in their attitude towards the subject when he finally helps them to understand the material. One of his favorite teaching moments is being able to hear the student say,“ ‘oh, I get it–that is pretty cool’.

Being a teacher can be a very rewarding experience. Already, Williams said he’s had a good experience at Biddeford.

“I called home to tell a student’s parent that their kid, who had failed the first summative, came to HAMR time and worked with me for several days. [They] then ended up with almost the highest grade in the class,” said Williams. “The parent started crying on the phone because they were so proud of their kid and thanked me for my help. It was very rewarding for me.”

Williams said his transition to Biddeford High was an enthusiastic, positive, and dedicated environment.

“Generally, my teaching style hasn’t changed due to the culture here specifically, but has [changed] due to being at the high school rather than university level,” Williams said.

High school education has given Williams new opportunity for his career.

“I have never had the opportunity to teach non-adult students and I love it! I believe it is very important for everyone that is graduating too, for example, have a basic understanding of the physics of car crashes,” Williams said.

Williams said that he likes that he has the ability to teach lessons that will help kids for the rest of their lives. He can help protect and prevent future accidents from happening and teach kids about what to do in those situations.

Williams spoke highly of the new standards-based learning system that Biddeford adapted to only a few years ago.

“The standards-based learning environment is something that works well for me in science,” Williams said. “I think having a teaching environment where students feel they are dictating how well they do in a class is important, and the culture here supports that.”