Q & A: Mr. Kendal Smith, Science


AP Chemistry is taught by Mr. Kendal Smith, Science. The class is double-block, setting it apart from other science and AP courses.

Mia Brann

Q: How is AP chemistry different from regular, honors and ACP chemistry?

A: My knowledge of ACP 2 is it’s equivalent to one semester of college chemistry, and AP chemistry is like one year of college chemistry. As a result, AP chem is double block versus single block like ACP 2. In ACP 2, the college course ends somewhere in February and March and the rest of the time is focused on a little organic chemistry, but you really pick up very little equilibrium, kinetics, acid-based chemistry, aerodynamics and electrochem which are heavily pushed in AP chem.

Q: What kind of students succeed in AP chem?

A: Hardworking students succeed, and most students succeed. Our success rate is about 90 percent of the students get a 3 or better on the AP exam, which translates to a B+. The vast majority of students succeed. There’s three things you need to be successful in AP chemistry. You have to be hardworking, and number two you have to be resilient because you will certainly cry in the class. It’s not a surprise for students to study four or five hours on a Sunday, then pull a 60 on the test. That is extremely disappointing, so there will be a lot of broken hearts and a lot of tears shed. You just have to learn to pick yourself up and respond to that and get over it, but that’s life. In life you have to learn to battle through, and that’s what students in AP chem learn to do. Finally, never give up. Students who succeed refuse to give up. They trust me that things will be all right in the long run, because they usually are. The key to that is they never give up. It makes it a little easier if you’re highly intelligent, but you don’t have to be top 5 to do well in AP chemistry.

Q: How does a normal class run with double block?

A: Typically, what will happen is we’ll come in and have some kind of an opener. All the openers are related to reactions. We will do a reaction every day and discuss that, then roll into the lecture. The lecture will then run the rest of that period and into the first half of the second one, which is about 2 hours and 15 minutes. The rest of the second period is theirs to work on other things like online homework, labs or other classwork.

Q: Why do you like teaching AP chem?

A: For me, it’s very intellectually stimulating. The students are highly intelligent, so we can do a lot of what I call non-linear teaching, which is where their questions can drive the lecture in areas I didn’t foresee. The [students] challenge me intellectually, which is fun. It’s very gratifying when they are successful. It’s great to see them do well and get into great schools or the school of their choice. It’s even better yet to see them succeed in college and afterwards. That’s always in the back of my mind when I’m teaching the class is how will this contribute to their future.