Teaching Chemistry in Las Vegas
The question I get asked most often when I say I am a high school chemistry teacher in Las Vegas, is “why Las Vegas?”. The simple answer is serendipity. I joined an organization called Teach For America (TFA) after my senior year of college. This organization chose the city, the school, and the subject I would be teaching. I was inspired to join TFA because of its goal is to close the education gap between the rich and poor in the United States, which resonated with my desire to have a positive impact on the world.
I also thought teaching would be easier than my studies, and would provide a much-needed break between degrees. This delusion should be credited to all the amazing teachers who made it look easy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Since starting at Mojave High School over four years ago, I have worked harder than any other time in my life. And even though I’ve completed my TFA term (two years), I have no plans to stop teaching. Through teaching I have fallen in love with my life. I have discovered a purpose I will sacrifice for, and have grown to become someone I can be proud of: an inspirer, a mentor, a learner, an educator.
Every class period I greet my students with a handshake and a genuine smile because they are my strength and my greatest source of joy. Every day I stay after school for three hours or more to tutor any student – current, former, or never met before – who finds him or herself in my room. I bring food because they might have missed lunch, I listen closely because they might have no safe place to be themselves, and I patiently explain, guide, and encourage them to fall in love with learning.
In return, there are small acts of kindness from them that keep my spirits lifted. It could be a student bringing me extra whiteboard markers, decorating my room for the holidays, or preparing a school-wide 26 puzzle scavenger hunt to give me a birthday card signed by those very same students who I helped after school. Through these actions the students continually communicate to 9
Mojave High School’s AP Chemistry students and their teachers, Cory Evans-Klock (standing on the left in the back – in the green t-shirt) and Joseph May.
me that I am making a difference, and that reaffirms my purpose and my unwavering hope for their future.
Why do I teach? For the joy, the challenges, the learning, and the positive impact I can bring in my students lives. Why in Las Vegas? Serendipity placed me there, but I stay because I am still needed here.
Cory Evans-Klock has been a member of the ELCG since 1996. He is currently teaching chemistry at Mojave High School in Las Vegas, Nevada in the United States.