Abraham Devis’s high school chemistry teacher inspired him to pursue a career in science. Now he’s paying it forward by inspiring the next generation of science enthusiasts at ACG School Jakarta.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Originally from Kenya, I’m an international teacher with more than nine years of experience with the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), Middle Years Programme (IBMYP) and Cambridge IGCSE and A-Level chemistry programmes. I have a bachelor’s degree in education sciences with information and technology, and am currently pursuing my master’s in advanced teaching.
I worked in Kenya at Aga Khan Academy as an IB teacher for about four years before moving to Bangladesh Dhaka, where I took up an IGCSE sciences coordinator position. I later moved to Yew Wah School of Shanghai as an A-Level chemistry teacher before moving to Desheng international school in Guangdong. At Desheng, I was the head of the chemistry department and IBDP chemistry teacher for two years before moving to the International School of Lusaka in Zambia where I was the head of science.
What led you to teaching?
My high school chemistry teacher actually inspired me to take up a career as a science teacher. He was a very passionate, friendly and knowledgeable teacher who loved his students. He made me love the subject, and I wanted to be that teacher to a new generation of students. I get much fulfilment in sharing my subject knowledge with my students, interacting with them, and being a positive presence in their lives.
What sets chemistry apart from the other sciences for you?
For me, chemistry is like Lego. Ideas can be broken down into small pieces and then reassembled in different ways to build something new. It’s a very hands-on subject, and the more you learn, the more you can draw your own interpretations and conclusions about the natural or synthesis processes that have been around us all along. Chemistry is also a connecting science between more conceptual sciences like math and physics and more palpable subjects like biology. It nestles perfectly between other science subjects.
Why were you keen to work at ACG School Jakarta?
What appeals to me most about the school is its focus and the direction the leadership team wants to take. Our core values – excellence, partnership, integrity and compassion – speak volumes about the ACG community. Coming here was definitely the right decision!
What are you enjoying most about the school?
The aspects that really stand out for me are the great students, the supportive management and leadership, and the wonderful school community. I have a small and supportive team and also work with a very supportive leadership team, so my job is very rewarding.
What four words do you think your students would use to describe you?
Passionate, knowledgeable, flexible and friendly.
How do you bring science to life in the classroom?
First of all, science is a very practical subject, so we bring our lessons to life by offering practical work that helps our learners engage with the content, develop essential skills, understand the process of scientific investigation, and develop a broader understanding of scientific concepts. Definitely, this area has been highly impacted by the pandemic, but we’ve still managed to come up with some safe home experiments for our learners.
Beyond that, technology is a great resource to exploit and use in our classes to help students visualise abstract scientific concepts and engage in scientific inquiry activities. We use modelling and simulation environments, experiment monitoring systems, visualisation software, real-time data collection software and many other interactive apps.
What exciting plans do you have for the ACG School Jakarta science department?
Our primary objective is to prepare our students to become scientifically literate and informed global citizens who are able to function in an increasingly complex society. I also hope to develop best practices, instructional materials and strategies that will improve and accelerate student achievement in sciences at ACG.
After the pandemic, we hope to boost student involvement and awareness of the community’s scientific resources through field trips and guest speakers. This will help students develop curiosity for our natural environment and an appreciation for the contributions of science to daily life.
What are your top tips for students this year?
I am proud of my students for maintaining a positive attitude towards learning even as we continue to navigate these challenging times. My advice for them is to have that growth mindset, as it will serve them well in the future, far beyond the timeline of a temporary pandemic.