Science Teacher Research Program Advisor Junior Retreat Chaperone At FSHA Since 2002
What is your role at FSHA?
What do your students call you?
Buxman or Bux
What made you want to work at FSHA?
I didn't really 'want' to work here. A friend told me there was an opening and I came to campus just to see the place (she loved working here). That turned into an impromptu meeting with principal Sister Ramona and a hastily scheduled sample teaching session. I was impressed in that short visit that the students were all interested in learning something new about physics. And since then, I am continually impressed with both students and faculty as they pursue learning.
What has been your proudest professional accomplishment?
I don't have a 'pinnacle event', but I do think that participating in the development of our science curriculum has been important. The fact that all seniors take physics and see it, in some ways, as a 'rite of passage' is astounding. Developing physics into a course that challenges students to think (both generally and about the physical world they interact with), regardless of their expected career path, is not trivial. And this course necessarily builds on the skill set of other science courses.
What has been your favorite teaching moment at FSHA?
I love when students who self-identify as "bad at science" or "not interested" find themselves engaged in learning. This happens so often in science when the topics we cover are unavoidably interesting— whether it is the human body or talking about the possibility of developing a solar power car. In physics, I see this with the experiments we do that are open ended design challenges. When a student is give the task of building an arcade game, the most common response is "You want me to do what?". But a few days later, the thinking process that they have developed leads to a, "Hey look what I did ..." moment. Participating in the development of these learning transitions is my happy place.
What is FSHA's best kept secret?
To be honest, and I know this sounds like self-promotion, I think it is the science department. I don't think we are "known" as a science school, but faculty and curriculum that we have evolved over the past years is really strong. Throughout all our departments on campus, courses/faculty are pushing students to think. In science, both our core courses and the marquee courses like Honors Scientific Research and our developing engineering/computer technology courses are really able to push students into a thinking like scientists. That is, we push data, and evidence, and analysis/interpretation and communication of analysis.
What do you love about the all-girls environment at FSHA?
I love that there is no hiding. Especially in science, all the girls know that they are in class together and can't rely on someone else to answer questions or do the work. So they jump in together. Of course, there is still competition. But it is a weird "collaborative competition" that really emulates what happens in scientific academic research. And finding the balance between the competition and the collaboration and teaching explicitly how to balance those things is something that we can do that I think would be harder in a co-ed or all-boys environment.
When not in the classroom/office, where can you be found?
What's your favorite place in the world?
In front of a book, in that book's world
What are you surprisingly good at?
Who has made the biggest impact on your life?
Definitely my wife Annika. Her way of thinking is so different than mine. I can 'do things', but she can think about things that might be able to be done. Her starting point is never the pragmatism. As a result, I have learned how to be much more willing to fail... a bunch... since first ideas are rarely great. She makes fun of me because when I first started here, I spent an entire weekend building 25 mini catapults for use in a lab. And after using them once realized that the device didn't work and ended up chucking the entire thing. So I am working at prototyping more, both with lab devices and with classroom process & curriculum, to make that try-fail-repeat process faster. And I am learning to not start with pragmatism. I'm not very good at it yet, but she is a good model for me to emulate.
What book, movie, work of art, piece of music, etc. can you not imagine life without?
I will have to be general here and say sci-fi (either literature or film). What I love is when an author breaks one piece of science, and then pushes that broken science to its end and creates an entire world that follows that new rule. And the best implementation of this world building is when we can use the strange world to learn about or comment on politics, ethics, relationship, culture, etc. in our world.
What did you want to be when you grew up (at age 12)?
I don't really have anything here. I am more of an 'in the moment' kind of person, so tend to fall into things.
What do you want to be when you grow up (now)?
See previous. I suppose I am still falling into things.
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy is an all girls' Catholic, Dominican, independent, college-preparatory day and boarding high school in the hills of La Cañada Flintridge. Overlooking Pasadena, FSHA educates girls from Los Angeles, Southern California and around the world for a life of faith, integrity and truth.
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy
440 St. Katherine Drive La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011 High School Office: 626-685-8300 Admissions: 626-685-8521