Teacher of the Week: Sydney Amos, biology, Centennial High, Champaign | Education

Opening her students’ eyes to something new and fascinating, like the science of genetics, is one of the aspects of teaching that Sydney Amos has loved most during her two years in the profession, both of which have been at Centennial High School.

But it’s not her only mission.

After rarely having Black teachers growing up, Amos is helping make sure her students don’t go through the same experience.

I find my work important because … I want students to see a teacher that looks like them (Black) that is interested in STEM and to show them we are bigger than any stereotype that has been put out into the world about us. I also want to show them that there is always a teacher in their corner to foster their success.

I became a teacher because … I feel a sense of joy when I get to show someone something new. I discovered this when I would help tutor some of the kids at my local church.

My favorite/most unique lesson that I teach is … when I cover genetics. I think it is so interesting to see how traits can skip generations and one person can change the whole makeup of a family for the future. You get to see how people get their hair color, eye color, height, etc. Genetics is linked to so many things, like evolution, mutations (not all mutations are bad), the cell cycle, and the list goes on.

My most fulfilling moments on the job are when … I am able to make a positive impact on a student and their life. I have some students that come to me as a trusted adult, when they are struggling with classes, trying to get the hang of being in high school, or even when they aren’t feeling their best emotionally.

I keep students engaged by … including them in their learning. If we are going over things in class, I will have them come up to the board, write the answers, and we check them collectively as a class. I always tell them to try their best because something is better than nothing. I also give them a choice, depending on the chapter, to do a project or to take a physical test when it comes to summative assessments. Students doing projects can sometimes showcase their understanding of the content better than memorizing information for a test.

I am passionate about teaching because … having an education, even if it is just a high school diploma, means something and is important. The more a person can expand their mind, the more well rounded they become. Having an education can put you in the position to meet new people and see new things.

My favorite teacher was … Ms. Chalmers. She was my junior English teacher when I was in high school at Belleville West High School. She was the second Black teacher I had ever had.

If I weren’t a teacher, I would be … a geneticist.

— ANTHONY ZILIS

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