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Introduction to Alan Bronstein

bronstein's picture

This section is one that I believe most of you can skip . . . if you are looking for actual content.

At the moment I am teaching chemistry at my own high school, Central, in Philadelphia.

It is an academic magnet school that a number of people at the Board of Education in Philly would like to see disappear -- because they believe so strongly in "heterogeneous classing" that they believe that separating the more capable students out of the mix is unfair to the rest of the student population. They are the same people who have, through political correctness, pushed to have the special ed and special needs students "mainstreamed" into the regular classroom. They then say that the regular classroom teacher should be trained so that she can address the full range of abilities and needs of all her students individually while still covering the mandated curriculum. I find this expectation not only creates an overstressed teacher, but also creates a classroom in which almost none of the students learn to the fullest of their potential. The rapid students get bored and become discipline problems. The slower students get lost and become discipline problems. Those in the middle can't learn because of the discipline problems. But I've digressed before I got started.

After college I worked at Allenberry Playhouse in Boiling Springs, PA as an apprentice, carpenter, electrician, and lighting designer. After figuring that my career was not to be in the "theatre," I returned to Philly and decided to substitute teach while I'd look for a "real job." Because of my liberal arts education, I slipped into an "auxiliary sub" position, which entailed going into the same school everyday and subbing for whomever was absent. It was a good way to get to know the students and to build classroom confidence, the ability to think on your feet, and to improvise activities that would keep middle school age kids involved.

Five years later I was still teaching, getting certified, and also working toward an MBA in International Marketing. After a year of teaching AP Physics at Central followed by a year of teaching physics and physical science at Dobbins Vo-Tech, I left teaching for a "dream job" in international business. After working as a marketing representative for Grove Manufacturing Co. (You see their large mobile hydraulic cranes on construction sites all over the world.) for 3 years, I became the district manager for South America for 3 years, after which I came back "in house" to teach others to become "DMs."
This foray into the business taught me that (1) the USA is the easiest country in the world to live in and (2) my prejudices were just that -- and were not supported by what I learned in my travels. Travel is, indeed, broadening.

Grove RT

When interest rates climbed to 20% in 1980-81, my wife and I saw that the world wouldn't be needing cranes for a while. If a company can't afford to borrow money, they would not be building. If they do not build, they do not need cranes . . . and Grove would not need so many employees. So, my wife opened a video store . . . and a year later, when I got laid off from Grove, I moved into the store.

Four years later I had an accident in the parking lot behind the store and sustained a spinal cord injury. After rehabilitation we sold the store and moved back to Philly. After a year I needed to get out of the house and do something. I decided to "re-try" teaching. I found that I could still teach and decided to persue the return for real. Now, 20 years later I am still at it, teaching a full chemistry roster at my old high school . . . and also acting as the sponsor for the school's Drama Society.


Wizard castWizard cast ClarenceClarence

Darcy & ElizabethDarcy & Elizabeth

I endeavor to bring some theatricality to my presentation of chemical concepts, as well.



bronstein's picture

Friday's presentation -- Webassign

A few years ago I found a new service that was a web-based means of assigning homework . . . and more importantly having someone else mark it.

I have entered all of you in my chemistry class. Don't worry. It's a very short course. You will be given an assignment that involves concepts from the first chapter or 2 of a chemistry book. You will have until Monday night to complete it. You will also have 3 tries to get the answer right. Hey, it's homework; not a test!

I'll show you how the system works and set you free. BTW, you have been invited by the people at Webassign to open your own FREE teacher account, so that you can play at your heart's content.

I hope you find this tool useful.

Enter through my webpage ( or directly by going to 

jrlewis's picture

my story

Thought you might find this interesting.  It is a link to some reflections about my career in education.  /exchange/node/2577#comment-65988

jrlewis's picture

Wow.  You have definitely

Wow.  You have definitely led an interesting life.  Could you please explain what in your experience made you want to retry teaching?  I've heard that young teachers right out of college burn out quickly, but more experienced teachers tend to stick.  What do you think?