John Clark

State and City of Residence:
Deland, FL

Job Description:
Science Teacher

Why do you work in education?
After a career in telecommunications, I went to work for Disney World in Florida. My wife noticed that I would go into work on Saturday to teach youth programs to visiting high school students. As a teacher herself, she saw my love of being a teacher and encouraged me to become a teacher full time.

Tell us about something that you have done in education that you feel has made or will make a big difference for your community?
Elevating student participation in science has been my school focus and I have initiated a number of programs to promote that goal. My favorite was working with my fellow science teachers to reorganize the science fair from a "one and done" to an "every student - every year". While other schools were shrinking their science fairs ours was growing to the largest in the district with over 1,000 students participating. The local community donated over $12,000 to recognize our students’ achievements and our scores one the state science test went up with our pass rate on the exam rising by 50%. With the increase our scores were the best in the district!

What’s your favorite part about being an America Achieves Fellow?
Learning from the other Fellows was my favorite part. America Achieves has so many great educators working to raise student achievement and teacher leadership. It renews my spirit to go back and fight the good fight each time we get together. It is a network I will learn from for a long time.

If you could change just one thing about our current education system, what would it be?
My number one change would be elevating teacher voice at every level. Through hybrid teaching roles and serving on advisory councils at the school, district, state, and national levels teachers would have input on decisions about what is best for the classroom. 

Anything else you’d like to share?
My philosophy as an educator is built on three goals: raise student achievement, grow as a teacher, and give back to the community. It has served me well. I'm a second career educator entering the field after 25 years in another industry. Teaching is the best and the hardest job I have ever had.

If a song played every time you walked into a room, what would that song be?
Hail to the Chief

What’s the best thing a student ever said to you?
You don't answer questions, why do you make me learn this myself?

What’s your dream vacation?
A three-month tour of Europe with my family.

What is one fun fact that most people don’t know about you?
I worked at Disney giving tours of the House of the Future.

What is your other favorite thing to do (besides education, or course!)?
Being with the family and walking my dogs.

What is your biggest inspiration?
My desire to make a lasting difference as a teacher at the school and national level.

What is one book every educator must read?
Rocket Boys