John Magee is a 10th grade chemistry teacher at the high school. Before his teaching career, Magee was a software developer and part-time musician. In his free time, Magee likes to write original songs that have been played on SiriusXM radio, which can be found on YouTube music or Spotify (see down below). Magee enjoys biking, surfing and has recently taken up snowboarding.
How did you find BHS?
I have been living in Brookline for ten years. My kids have been going to Brookline schools since kindergarten. I have a daughter who’s in 8th grade at Lincoln, and my son who is a junior here at the high school.
How did you decide what to teach?
My situation’s pretty unique because I used to work in business. I started two technology companies. I was always a software developer and my interest has always been in science. I knew that I wanted to teach high school at a certain point in my life, so I quit my other job to try and figure out how to become a teacher. I took a little bit of time off and then applied to be a substitute teacher [at the high school] thinking that it would be a good way to get started.
Why did you decide to teach 10th grade?
When I got hired, I was told they were looking for a position filled in either biology or chemistry, and I’m pretty good with chemistry. Because my son is a junior, he is taking biology, so I knew I would not want to be mixed up with him and his friends. It all worked out great.
What do you think prompted your decision to go into teaching instead of technology?
I’ve always loved learning. I’m always trying to learn new things. I love making connections with kids, especially high schoolers. Some of my favorite learning was in high school more than in college. I have worked with teenagers in other jobs. When I was really young I did some camp counselor jobs and I always loved it. I feel really comfortable explaining things to kids and teaching them broader things about life.
Do you have any fun hobbies?
I have lots of hobbies, but music is my biggest. I’m a musician; I started as a piano player but I play everything: guitar, bass and drums. I’ve always written songs and had some stuff played on Sirius XM radio. I’ve put out a couple of albums that were pretty well-reviewed as well. I had a band in the 2000s called Scrimshanders, who recently put out a “best of” retrospective called “Songs That Never Were”. I am still active in music, playing with neighbors at block parties and recording songs that I hope to put out soon.
Do you have any other hobbies?
I like to exercise. I’m a bike enthusiast so I bike and build my own bikes. I like to ride bikes everywhere and surfing is my new thing. I’m just trying to learn, so [I’m] not very good at it but I like it. ]I like] snowboarding too, and I’m much better at snowboarding than surfing. It’s kind of a curse at some point because you know if you ski all the time it ends up being really expensive.
Is there any advice you can give students?
I think it’s really important for people to have something that they love to do. Sometimes I think there’s a lot of pressure on teenagers to do things that look good on a college application, and I think people don’t always choose the right things for them. The only thing that’s right is the right thing for you.