Ewing Public Schools Teacher Spotlight: Meet Sean Hammer
Where do you teach and what grade level/courses? How long have you been a teacher?
I've been teaching at Ewing High for nearly 10 years. I teach 10th grade Biology, Honors Biology, and AP Biology, and for the last five years, I've run the EHS Student Council.
What college or university did you attend and why did you choose that establishment of higher-education?
I graduated from Princeton University in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in Molecular Biology and certificates in African American studies and teacher preparation. I've always been someone who loves learning and constantly wants to improve, and after high school I wanted to put myself in the most challenging academic environment I could find. I also didn't want to be too far from home (I grew up in South Brunswick), so Princeton was an ideal fit.
What made you want to become a teacher?
I actually went to Princeton thinking that I would be pre-med -- going to medical school after graduation was part of my plan through the middle of my junior year. As much as I loved my pre-med courses, I realized that the two things that made me happiest were working as a camp counselor during my summers and volunteering at an after-school tutoring program in Trenton. I decided to join the Teacher Prep program knowing that it would be a great fit for my interests/talents but also thinking it would be something that I'd do for a year or two before going off to med school. I never could have anticipated how instantly I would fall in love with teaching. As much as I still wanted to go to med school, I simply enjoyed being in the classroom too much to ever consider leaving. Instead, I wound up doing the next best thing -- I started taking grad classes at night, and in 2013 I earned my Master's in Public Health from the University of Pennsylvania. Now, I not only get to teach, but I get to work with our school and district-level wellness committees to try to make Ewing High a healthier place.
When a student leaves your classroom at the end of the year, what do you want them to remember most?
Not every student is going to grow up to become a scientist, but every one of them will need to make informed decisions about their health, their communities, and the future of our planet. I want students to take from my class not only a better understanding of the major scientific issues that will define their lifetime but also the skills necessary to distinguish fact from fiction. I'm hopeful that along the way they'll also be learning something about themselves that will ultimately make them better, more successful students in high school and beyond.
What do you like best about Ewing?
Ewing has afforded me an opportunity to be involved in a lot of different ways that extend beyond the classroom. Through Student Council, I've been able to work directly with students to revitalize school spirit and launch a range of school improvement initiatives ranging from peer tutoring programs and college tours to our annual freshman orientation program. I've served with my colleagues on various building and district-level committees examining everything from attendance and discipline policies to class rank, final exams, and AP exam costs. We have great students, great parents, and great staff, and to be a part of a district where innovation is truly encouraged and supported makes working here extremely rewarding.
What do you do outside of school?
Outside of school, I enjoy playing golf, watching movies, doing crossword puzzles, and traveling.
What is the one thing people do not know about you that you would like to share?
I spent the summer of 2013 living in Botswana doing research for my MPH (Masters in Public Health). Highlights included safaris in the Okavango Delta, a trip to Victoria Falls, and sightseeing in Cape Town, South Africa.
What is your favorite quote or book?
The best book I've read in the last year is Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. My favorite song is "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire.