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dTHS Teacher Feature: David Harris

Let's get to know our Physics Teacher, David Harris!

Q: Where did you go to school and what degree did you earn?
A: I earned my Bachelor in Science (Hons) degree at Imperial College in London. I then went on to receive my Postgraduate Certificate in Education for Child Psychology and Physics at Cambridge University.
Q: What is your previous work experience?
A: The first school I worked at was Charles Darwin old school, Shrewsbury School. It is a public all-boys boarding school. After five years I decided I wanted to experience working in America for just one year. Well, I ended up falling in love with a school in Ojai called Thacher. One year turned into 15 years. I was the Science Department Chair, Dorm Head for the freshman boys, Basketball Coach, and Soccer Coach. After 15 years, I decided I needed to change up things in my life, and I received a job at Hackley School in Manhattan. During this time I got married, and we agreed we both wanted to move to the West Coast. As we were planning our move, Thacher called and said they had an opening for me. It was serendipitous!
Q: Why did you choose to work at dTHS?
A: I felt it would be a nice change to work in a Day School. My one true love for working at a school has always been teaching in a classroom, and unfortunately, I wasn’t doing that at Thacher.
Why de Toledo? I was pretty selective about where I wanted to work. I knew I wanted to work at a school with a strong identity. When I had an interview at dTHS, I came in early to get an idea of the school. I was immediately struck by the energy and animation of the students. It was clear there were a lot of happy people at dTHS. I felt a sense of dTHS just from walking around and knew that this school knew its identity. Honestly, if I didn’t get this job, dTHS set the bar for any other job I would’ve applied.
Q: Why did you decide to become a teacher? 
A: It’s funny, I left high school not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew one thing. I did not want to teach. During my time in college, I became close to a girlfriend of mine. She was studying to be a teacher. I started taking classes with her and ended up spending a year studying to become a teacher. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out with her, but I fell in love with the experience of learning to teach. Teaching is something you have to like, and I had very positive experiences learning to teach.
Q: What classes do you teach?
A: I currently teach regular, honor, and AP Physics.
Q: What is your teaching style?
A: I would call my style guided heuristic. I want students to self discover, but it’s not reasonable for me to think students are going to discover 500 years of physics. A big part of physics is misconceptions. By demonstrating experiments or working in the lab together, I hope to inspire students to understand why their theory was wrong. My big challenge is to break the preconception that students have about the world. Physics is very powerful; it’s almost like solving a mystery.
Q: What do you love about dTHS?
A: I really love working with my colleagues and the students at dTHS. My perception of the school was correct! Students here are hardworking, curious, tenacious, and willing to push themselves.
Q: Do you have a vision for the science department?
A: Yes, I have a goal for my class and my colleagues, and I have a goal for our department. For my class, I recommend every student takes at least a year of physics. It is so very important to learn about this cosmic game called life.
For our department, we are currently working on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This rubric will intergrade all types of sciences classes, along with engineering. I believe this is a step in the right direction for the Science Department. We are all working together to serve the students in the 21st century best.
Q: What started your love for science?
A: My Uncle Frank would often do what looked like magic tricks for me when I was young. These “tricks” would include changing the color of the liquid, playing with mercury, turning coins a different color. They all felt mystical and captured my imagination. During high school, some of my best teachers were my science teachers. They were all dedicated to their work to show what was possible. This ignited and continued my imagination and created a want for me to learn more.
Q: What is your favorite activity to do outside of work?
A: I am a huge computer gamer. Mostly the types of games where you problem solve or create things. Outdoors wise, I have gone on over 90 camping trips, from 1 week to a month in the Amazon or the Sahara Desert.
Q: Do you have any pets?
A: Yes, I have two fur babies. One is named Fuzzy, and the other is Peanut. They are both Mongrel Terriers.
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: My favorite meal is roast beef with Yorkshire pudding. I am very good at making it. I do also love junk food like KFC. 

Located in the San Fernando Valley portion of the City of Los Angeles in Northern Los Angeles County. de Toledo High School is accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and Builders of Jewish Education (BJE,) and financially supported by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Jim Joseph Foundation.