This year, Morro Bay High School’s science department has become home to a brand new teacher. Teaching Chemistry on both College Prep and AP levels, Mr. Andree has quickly become an iconic face around campus for his infectious energy and enthusiasm. Along with teaching chemistry, Andree also coaches Girls Swim. In both teaching and coaching, Andree has made it his mission to give his students “something to be happy and energized about.”
Contrary to the idea that academic classes should be places of stressful learning as students dread oncoming tests and due dates, Andree has worked to make a teaching style that is both effective and fun. Following a less-than-fun introduction to chemistry in high school, Andree discovered the “beauty” the subject can have when done right. Today, he works to integrate that beauty into his classroom as often as possible. “Science has a bad rap,” Andree said. Through interactive teaching, Andree hopes to combat this notion through “engagement and stoke.”
When entering Mr. Andree’s classroom, one feature is especially prominent: the drawings on the whiteboard that change every day according to what he plans to teach that day. When asked about these drawings (which can range from Thanos to monks on motorcycles), Andree explained that they serve as a test: “if a cannot draw something awesome on the whiteboard [that relates to class], then why am I even teaching them something?” He went on to explain that the drawings were more or less an accident. After doing one on a whim one day, the response from students was so enthusiastic that he has continued to do them every day since.
One of Andree’s favorite memories of the years, he shared, was this idea in practice. “One of my students told me she was dreading taking Chemistry,” he said. “Now, though, she said that she’s excited to end the day in Chemistry. She’s excited to come to class.”
One of Andree’s main goals that he shared is best reflected in a phrase that his classmates have heard almost every day: “Go do great things!” He explained that he hopes “to inspire [his] students to do just a little bit better every day.” This idea can be found throughout his classes, including, he mentioned “the doodles on the board,” which he hopes “will be a little better every day.”
Andree also took the time to explain what went into planning his lessons. First of all, he comes at it with the question of “what would I want to learn?” before diving into how to bring his students in. With each lesson, he said that he works to find “the hook, the story, [or] the fun presentation” that will relate the content of the day to his students in an engaging way. These planning aspects also tied into an unexpected challenge he has faced this year: “when leaving my host teacher last year, she told me ‘I haven’t prepared you for planning’,” he said. Much of what goes into teaching, he explained, happens outside of the classroom. What you see in the classroom, he explained, is the product of a lot of work outside of school hours.
The young Chemistry teacher found a lot of similarities between his teaching style and how he sees the culture of Morro Bay High School. He described the school’s culture as “low stress but also ready to get things done,” which is very similar to the atmosphere he tries to create in his classroom. Andree’s easy transition into the school is assisted by the name he is known by many as: ‘Little Andree’ in comparison to his father. When asked how it felt to teach at the same school as his dad, he replied that “it’s not weird until people make it weird,” but that “it’s nice to know that I have a support system here at school.”