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Jeffrey Grimm, Biology, Solon High This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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My AP biology classroom has always ­reminded me of a top drawer – a cluttered compartment that becomes a stow-all for miscellaneous items from the house. But whereas stray buttons and rusted pennies serve little purpose at home, the objects strewn about this room are versatile and brought to life by my creative teacher, Mr. Grimm. Racquet balls turn into hydrogen ions, and outdated Beanie Babies become complex molecules. We sit enthralled as Mr. Grimm makes difficult concepts seem so simple.

With Mr. Grimm’s unique teaching style, contagious enthusiasm, and unwavering patience, AP biology has morphed from my most challenging class to my ­favorite time of the day. Regardless of which complicated concept he’s describing, Jeffrey Grimm always has a creative presentation up his sleeve for his lucky students. I’ll admit that one of the reasons I enrolled in this difficult science course was … well … there were rumors. Lots of them. And they all seemed to conclude that ­biology with Mr. Grimm is a thoroughly rewarding experience. Now, as the date of the AP test looms threateningly, I shrug off my worries because I’ve been taught by, in my opinion, the best science teacher in the nation.

But that title does him little justice. Mr. Grimm is a mentor, a comedian, and a patient coach of the sciences. He has learned to connect his subject with ­genuine excitement. Using everyday objects and an olive-green chalkboard, Mr. Grimm brings to life the same processes that have college students scratching their heads in frustration. With his patient, lucid ­explanations and his continued reinforcement of the “big picture,” we gain self-confidence and the important knowledge to score well on his tests (which, frankly, make the AP test seem less scary).

Mr. Grimm is passionate about what he does, but he doesn’t settle for merely teaching. He makes sure he connects with each of us, even if it means dressing up PowerPoint presentations on an insipid topic (i.e. bacteria) with an endless barrage of sound effects and animation.

While I’ve learned so much in his class, I feel that Mr. Grimm’s personality is just as strong as his expertise. Despite teaching the same material more than four hours a day (the number of students enrolling increases every year), Mr. Grimm is always energized, off-the-wall, and overwhelmingly enthusiastic. He jolts our end-of-day class wide awake with his kooky anecdotes and rapid-fire questions. It’s impossible not to listen and want to take part in the conversation. Class has become an intelligent free-for-all where students are encouraged to share their random thoughts and questions. It’s a college-level learning atmosphere infused with the personality of a hilarious and brilliant man.

But Mr. Grimm is not only an educator and an ­entertainer; he is also a husband, father, sports enthusiast, taxpayer, and regular person. He makes no ­secret of this, and has compassion for his students. I remember walking into class on a stressful Monday when everything seemed to be going awry, and he asked me if I was okay. “Take a break. You’re doing fine,” he advised. I felt much better after that tiny ­encouragement, and am still moved when I see him reassure students with a simple quip, joke, or the ever-comforting “It’s O-KAY.” His concern for all of us is authentic and unparalleled, and “Grimm veterans,” some in their twenties, regularly return to his classroom to reminisce on their biology experience and his kindness.

Mr. Grimm is a teacher who deserves to be inducted in the Educator Hall of Fame. He deserves endless accolades and awards, and yet I don’t think that would satisfy him. I think his greatest reward is finding out, year after year, that his students score 5’s on the AP test and develop an enduring love for science. He is a humble, ordinary teacher with extraordinary dedication to his job and his students. What he does in class every day is nothing short of amazing, and for all the unheard thanks he deserves, for the gratitude I’ve ­always felt, I hope this nomination can somehow ­encompass it all.

In class, we learned that “allopatric speciation” is when one population is separated from the rest and gives rise to a new lineage of the same kind. Mr. Grimm has set himself apart from the stereotypical science teacher. I can only hope that nature does its job and others follow his lead so science class becomes an equally invigorating experience for all ­students across the country.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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ShannonMU said...
Mar. 20, 2010 at 6:46 pm:
Cathy really succeeded in describing what a great teacher, and person Mr. Grimm. I took his classes 5 years ago and I still recall his enthusiasm and genuine concern for all of his students. He demonstrated to me what it means to love your profession and your life, and I will always remember him for that.
 
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RNOhioStateICU said...
Mar. 20, 2010 at 6:15 pm:
...fantastic article. It is hard to put into words the magnitude of the impact that Mr. Grimm makes on students, but Cathy managed to do so. He is the reason that I do what I do.
 
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