Jason Heitler-Klevans grew up in Cheltenham, Pa. Heitler-Klevans then moved to Ohio to attend Oberlin College. At college, he met his current fiance and is expected to get married later this year. Last year, Heitler-Klevans worked at Somerville High School as a physics and chemistry teacher part-time while in graduate school. When Heitler-Klevans is not helping students or advising the game club at the high school, Heitler-Klevans is a full time physics and chemistry teacher for sophomores and freshmen.
Did you always want to be a teacher? When you decided you did, what made you choose chemistry and physics?
I definitely did not always think I wanted to be a teacher. I would say up until my senior year in college, I imagined that I would be a researcher or some kind of scientist. As a senior I was looking around for job opportunities and had a couple experiences with education and decided I would try getting a little deeper into it. That is how I ended up doing work for the education graduate program. Then, I fell into teaching, and really loved it.
Did teaching at the high school turn out to be what you expected?
I would say the travel in between the buildings is not quite what I was anticipating and trying to sort through the schedule has been a little bit more difficult than I imagined. However, a lot about the culture of the faculty and the enthusiasm of the students has been what I expected. It was one of the reasons I was interested in coming to the high school.
What makes your teaching style unique?
What I really love doing is facilitating the learning of my students in a way where they are doing most of the work themselves. What I don’t like to do is stand in front of the class and give lectures. I like to walk around as students struggle through difficult problems and give students a little bit of clarification while answering a question or two.
When you are not teaching, what else do you like to do?
I definitely spend a lot of time with friends and my fiance. I’m Jewish so I’m also involved in a Jewish organization in the area called Kavod. I really like baking bread. I also play Dungeons and Dragons.
Are you in the game club at the high school?
Yeah, they asked me to be their adviser. Since it is my first year teaching here it seems a little silly to jump into that, but they don’t really need my help. I am just there to make sure there is a teacher in the room, but it is something I really enjoy doing.
If you could describe your personality in one word, what would it be?
I would say thoughtful. I’m very reflective of things that I do and what other people say. I take a lot of time to process what I hear and see. I don’t make up my mind very quickly on a lot of things. There are certain things in the classroom where you have to make a quick decision, but I find it is best if I have already thought about it a bit. I don’t like giving answers when I don’t already know something. If someone asks me something and I don’t know it, I’ll say I don’t know.
If you could give advice to your younger self what would it be?
I would say to be more confident. And to make decisions more confidently, while not waiting too long to decide to get involved with something, or not start inga career just because it seems like it might be difficult.
Do you think that advice translates to what you see now in students and what you would tell them?
Yeah, I definitely see anxiety about the future in my students. I think that it comes from a very reasonable place of uncertainty and fear. I think that it is important to understand that the journey is just as important as where you end up. It is okay to have experiences that maybe aren’t what you originally planned. I think that goes along with being confident about what decisions you are making, and that you don’t have to go with something that you don’t actually want to do because it seems like the safe choice.