Josiah Sweers is just one semester into the school year at Paton-Churdan Community School District, and he is loving it.
He teaches all the science classes in grades 6-10 in the district which has about 200 students, give or take a few. The school is located in Churdan. His classes include biology, physical science, earth science and library science.
Sweers, who hails from Moville and graduated from Woodbury Central High School, attended the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, graduating in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in biology, and three teaching endorsements — physical science, general science and earth science.
“I do love it,” he says of his first few months. “It is more work than I expected it to be, but it has been a lot of fun as well. I’ve kind of had the perfect start here.”
Sweers tries to use a variety of teaching methods and keep a good balance between traditional book learning, lectures and hands-on experience. He just recently had students studying real chicken livers to understand how enzymes work and change under hot and cold conditions.
“I think the hardest thing about science for students is catching on to a different way of thinking,” he says. “Science isn’t like history or English. They can do experiments and see for themselves what is true and what works in science. Once they get that idea down, they do pretty well. Also, it is more interesting for students to do their own experiments.”
While he admits the work in preparing classes, grading and more has been more than he expected, Sweers said he feels very blessed to be in a school district which has good facilities and good equipment for his students to use, even though it is a small district.
“We have great technology here, and I’m free to order supplies that I need,” he says.