Teacher Profile: Courtland Ferreria-Douglas

Photo by Isabel Meyers
Photo by Isabel Meyers

Teachers often try a career in their fields before making the switch to education. In the case of long-term science substitute teacher Courtland Ferreria-Douglas, previous job experiences include disease research, chemically analyzing beef jerky and working for PepsiCo.

Before coming to the high school, Ferreria-Douglas worked for an extended day science program in Seattle. Ferreria-Douglas also worked at Charlestown High School in Boston. While he greatly enjoyed his time there, he said there are many differences between his work at Brookline and Charlestown.

“This is the first school I’ve been to that doesn’t have bells,” he said. “It was very strange having kids tell me when the class was over instead of a bell. The faculty is very dedicated. Both the students and teachers are very devoted.”

After a year of teaching a standard chemistry class, an honors chemistry class and a Living By Chemistry (LBC) class at the high school, Ferreria-Douglas continues to expand his horizons as a teacher by taking on a new course: LBC Honor.

“I hope to bring my knowledge of how different classes operate to my course this year and combine them to bring out the best, especially because I have a class that is both LBC and an honors class,” Ferreria-Douglas said.

Despite being strong in science and math during grade school, Ferreria-Douglas said he never thought he would end up being a science teacher when he grew up.

“If you told the high-school me that he would end up a chemistry teacher, he would be very surprised,” Ferreria-Douglas said.

Before becoming a teacher, Ferreria-Douglas worked as a chemical analyst. He participated in the analysis and mapping of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, working to identify the types of oil found in the Gulf, often taking samples of oil directly from the remains of animals.

“It was sad when they sent a turtle for us to examine and look at the oil,” Ferreria-Douglas said. “But we used all of this information to put together this big map of the Gulf and it was sad seeing how far the oil reached in the end. It was very scary to see how much of the Gulf had been affected.”

Ferreria-Douglas only realized his love for chemistry during his sophomore year of college. At that point, he said he could understand more complicated theories of chemistry and discovered how fascinating it was to know how things work at the molecular level.

“In biology, I understand meiosis and mitosis; I can see the parts of the body and anatomy is easy to explain,” he said. “In physics I can see a ball being thrown and understand its motion. But in chemistry, I can’t see the individual molecules and atoms which are so important to chemistry and make up everything. When you are able to get it, it feels great. So finally being able to see how it was all done and how it came together was magical.”

Jason Lammers and Isabel Meyers can be contacted at [email protected]