Susan Whinery, physics teacher at S.E.P. High School, gets excitement from her job.
“I always get excited when kids get excited about science — and I love to show them that science is everywhere,” she says.
Whinery grew up in the small town of Glidden and got her love of learning there.
“My dad was a high school computer/business teacher and a coach. Our life revolved around the school,” she says. “I grew up playing school in his classroom while he was getting ready.”
Even with all the classroom exposure growing up, teaching was not Whinery’s career choice. Fate had other ideas.
“I wanted to be a meteorologist, but I got a full academic scholarship at UNI,” she says. “UNI didn’t have meteorology, so I went into teaching.”
Whinery taught chemistry and physics for 14 years in Tripoli. Then fate stepped in again. She met her future husband, Mark at a blind date to an ISU football game.
“I lived in Tripoli and Mark lived in Rochester,” she says. “A year later we had our rehearsal dinner at the ISU football game, and we were finished before the ISU/UNI game had started!”
Whinery moved to Rochester and taught chemistry for six years, but the couple wanted to get back to their families when they had kids.
“Mark got a job with John Deere, and I got a job at S.E.P. Junior High,” Whinery says. “My first S.E.P. classroom was in the old industrial tech room; it was the only room without air conditioning, so we had to keep the doors open. We would get animals in the room — ground squirrels, birds, insects, bees and wasps.”
Noisy mechanical equipment made the classroom challenging; Whinery had to use a head set so the students could hear her. The situation didn’t last long, though.
“After a year at the junior high, I went to S.E.P. high school,” she says. “This will be my fifth year at the high school. I love it. I can’t see myself doing anything else. I go to school just as excited as when I was a little girl. I still get butterflies the night before.”
Whinery and her husband, Mark, live in Pleasant Hill their two boys, Quinn, 7, and Reece, 6, and their fat cat, Dipper.