Dan Voss, the new science teacher at Boone High School, has been chosen to be a Knowles Science Teaching Foundation (KSTF) Teaching Fellow. He joins a cohort of 33 other Teaching Fellows from across the United States who are beginning their high school math and science teaching careers.
While there is one other Teaching Fellow who hails from Iowa, Voss is the only one who is teaching in Iowa, said Ebony Freeman, KSTF communications manager.
Voss heard of the program while he was pursuing his masters degree in education at Northwestern University in Chicago. A current teaching fellow he met “raved about” the program, Voss said, leading to his decision to apply for the program.
The application process to become a KSTF Teaching Fellow required Voss to submit essays that would be used to determine if he had the potential to develop: 1. the content knowledge needed for teaching; 2. exemplary teaching practices; and 3. the qualities of a teacher leader, according to the KSTF website. Following the essay submissions, Voss was notified that he was one of the semi-finalists. He and the other semi-finalists gathered for interviews and a chance to interact with each other. Then earlier this year, Voss found out he was one of the 34 finalists.
As a Teaching Fellow, Voss will be provided with stipends, professional development funds, teaching material grants and leadership and mentoring opportunities through the program, according to the KSTF website. He also will be able to interact with the 33 other finalists, sharing classroom lesson ideas and discussing the latest science- and mathematics-related topics.
“It will be nice to get different perspectives,” Voss said of talking to the other Teaching Fellows.
It was during the KSTF application process that Voss accepted the science teaching position at Boone High School. What he likes about the district is that Boone’s high school reminds him of the one from which he graduated in Cedar Rapids.
“I’ll have the freedom and support to help me grow here,” Voss said of Boone.
He received his bachelor of science degree in material engineering from Iowa State University in 2013 and a master of science in education (secondary teaching: physics) from Northwestern University in 2016.
He said he decided to become a teacher, rather than an engineer, because he would be able to see the people who are directly impacted by his work. While at Iowa State, he had the opportunity to work at several places related to his engineering studies, but was disappointed that he didn’t get to see the people who were impacted by the work he was doing.
Voss will be teaching five sections of principals of advanced science, as well as chemistry this coming school year. He said his classes will consist primarily of sophomores and juniors.
In the classes, Voss said he will propose a question that the students will have to answer through various hands-on activities and experiments. For example, one of the lessons will involve the students putting chemicals into a beaker that is sitting on top of a wet block of wood. When the chemicals are placed in the beaker, the wood will freeze, and students will have to determine why the wood froze.
With classes starting next Tuesday, Aug. 23, in Boone, Voss said he is looking forward to his first year of teaching.
“I’m excited to meet the students and people of Boone,” he said. “It’s exciting to be in a community of this size.”
In his free time, Voss enjoys doing improv, watching basketball and reading both non-fiction and science fiction books.