The Student News Site of Lake Central High School

Lake Central News

The Student News Site of Lake Central High School

Lake Central News

The Student News Site of Lake Central High School

Lake Central News

Q&A: Dr. Dustin Verpooten, Science

Dr. Dustin Verpooten, Science, helps Marc Mertsching (12) look through a microscope. Mertsching was using the microscope in Dr. Verpooten’s AP biology class.

Q: What classes do you teach?

A: I teach AP biology and anatomy.

Q: How long have you been teaching at Lake Central?

A: I’ve been teaching here 6 years and actually during that time I’ve taught support biology, general biology, honors biology, AP biology, anatomy, bio-technology, and zoology.

Q: Did you always want to be a teacher?

A: No. Growing up I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian, and when I got to college I decided I was going to go premed and be a psychiatrist. I show up and I have an interview with the department chair of the psychology department at the college that I was accepted to, Franklin, and she was like ‘Oh why do you want to be a psychology major’ and I said ‘because I’m going to be a psychiatrist’. Then, she said ‘You have to go to medical school for that. You might want to major in biology or chemistry’. At that point I hated chemistry, so the only thing left was biology. So, I walked out of her office, over to the biology building and decided I was going to be biology major. Then, when I took an ecology class, I wanted to be a park ranger. I just pictured driving around in a cop car, having a gun, and managing a forest; I liked that because when I was a kid I used to go hunting with my dad and I liked the outdoors. Then, I got over that and I took a microbiology class and we transformed bacteria and I thought ‘this is amazing; I want to be a microbiologist’. Then, I decided I wanted to be a pharmacist, so I worked at Walgreens for a while and I decided ‘this actually kind of sucks’. So then I decided no, I am not going to be a pharmacist, I’m going to teach.

Q: Why did you choose to teach?

A: I chose teaching because at the time I was changing careers a lot of things interested me and I was decent at school. I was good at a lot of things, but I never thought I was great at any one thing. Our senior year we had to give a senior seminar, which was a course you had to take for your major, and we had to give an hour lecture on a topic in biology. When I gave that lecture the professor approached me and said ‘I just want you to know that you have a real gift for speaking and I think you’d be really good at teaching’. That was the first time I felt really good at one thing, so I thought I should consider [teaching]. And that happened to me again at grad school, so I felt like I was affirmed again and I was like ‘Oh I want to do this teaching thing’.

Q: What is your favorite part about teaching?

A: I definitely like it because of the students. Yes, I can teach students science and biology and that’s a big part of what I do, but at the same time there’s always going to be a small set of students that you’re able to form a mentor type of relationship with and maybe you have an impact on their life outside of science. That totally makes it worthwhile.

Q: What is your most valuable memory while teaching at Lake Central.

A: I’ve been teaching AP biology for a couple of years just following what has been done before, then we started to get the new textbooks and I literally threw everything away that had been handed down to me. I created brand new lectures, like the whole course from scratch. That year we got the 90% pass rate with an average score of 4 [on the AP biology test] and that was way higher than we have ever gotten before. I felt validated in that moment, like oh this works, what I do works.


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About the Contributor
Sara Lisac, Author