Leroy Gray is the founding physics teacher at Philadelphia-based Science Leadership Academy at Beeber. While studying to earn both a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University, Gray taught several mechanical engineering laboratories. He also worked as a translator for a few years. Through these experiences, he discovered his love of teaching. Realizing that our education system needs good teachers, he earned a Master of Science in Science Education from the University of Pennsylvania, then transitioned to the field of teaching. In 2014, Gray was selected as a Knowles Science Teaching Foundation Teaching Fellow.

(Photo Courtesy of Leroy Gray)

(Photo Courtesy of Leroy Gray)

What is the most challenging aspect of teaching in the classroom environment?

“I would say that one of the most challenging aspects of teaching in the classroom environment is getting to know many diverse and unique personalities. I have about 115 students this year and it has been a challenge, yet a rewarding one, to get to know all of them as individuals. This lends itself to being a great teacher in that you know what your students need and you are able to give them that as they grow and learn. Building this student-teacher relationship is very beneficial and rewarding to teaching & learning.”

Are continuing education courses beneficial for teachers?

“In this profession, I feel that it is possible that one can become stagnant and not grow towards mastery or perfecting their practice. Always being reflective and reiterative helps to keep you vibrant and passionate about your practice. Through my continuing education courses, I am always reflecting and looking for something new or the next big thing that gets me excited and that I know will make learning meaningful and memorable for my students.”

Do you feel a master’s level education would be helpful in your day-to-day career?

“Where I am and who I am today as an educator is largely attributed to the program that I did at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. This was due to the fact that they taught me to be a reflective, collaborative, and visionary teacher, and leader. Masters programs tend to be more specific and deliberate towards whatever career and field of study it might be, so having this education is very helpful, especially when it comes to education.”

Do you have any advice for people wanting to enter the teaching profession?

“Firstly, I would say that the teaching profession is not for the faint of heart. One must care about students in their success and have a passion for teaching and learning. Education is something to which you must have a real commitment in order to do it well. It requires a lot of energies mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I knew that the realm of education was for me when I came to the realization that it was my passion, I wanted to be an agent of change, and it meant more than anything to me to see someone else successful.”

Christina Thompson is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.