Teacher of the Month: Dr. Gadd

Michelle Leung

Michelle Leung

Devon Wenzel, Copy Editor

What are some of your hobbies?

I like a lot of outdoors stuff, so caving is one of my big ones. I like to explore caves and take people into caves. I think it’s just a lot of fun doing it and there are a lot of pretty decorations in some cavesstalactite, stalagmites. So caving is kinda like going to a commercial cave– except it’s more like you are climbing over things, climbing under things, slithering through holes, shimmying up through cracks. There’s a lot of mental and physical challenges, and it’s just fun to explore. I kinda see caving as like extreme hiking, underground, in the muddy dark, but it’s a blast.

Do you have any advice for students wanting to take AP/Honors Chemistry?

They are both a lot of work. I mean, you really have to be interested in the subject as well as able, and you have to have a strong work ethic. With AP Chemistry, obviously you need to do Honors Chemistry first, and you won’t really know if you have the passion for AP roughly until you’ve taken Honors as you may develop it as you go along. But you know if you are really interested in trying to understand how things work, and then as I said you have the mathematical ability as well as work ethic, and you do your homework on a regular basis and stay on top of the material, then those are sort of the trades that will allow you to be successful. The classes are both great prep for any future chemistry – I’ve had students who years later have come back and said, “I thought I was done with chemistry after Honors, I didn’t take AP, but I had to take this other chemistry course in college because I switched majors and I was surprised about how much of the material I remembered when we started covering it.” And I tell them, it’s because I make you understand it. You will forget facts, you will forget details, but when you develop understanding, it doesn’t take long for it to come back as soon as you are working with the same material and I think that’s really what is important about what I do and the way I teach. I push students to develop that understanding by writing, by explaining, and not just crunching some numbers and remembering a few facts. You’ve got to combine and apply what you know for any of it to have any real value.

What is your favorite thing about working at PDS?

The thing that brings me the most joy is when a student cracks a difficult concept and they get it, and just watching them light up. When you see that lightbulb go on and that student just suddenly lights up and says “Ah ha! I get it!” That’s just so beautiful. And working with students that may not be the strongest students, but they work hard and they slowly get better and better, is great.