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7 Things About Jan Coonrod

What inspired you to do this kind of work?

I think it is the best use of the full combination of my skills – interpersonal, intellectual, training and experience, and otherwise. After my many years in curriculum development, this was a natural stopping place. Also, my father was a very well-regarded teacher at the university level so some of that probably rubbed off on me, although I hesitated to follow in his footsteps for a long time because I was intimidated by his legacy.

What is your position here and how long have you worked at O’Dowd?

I teach in the science department. I have taught lots and lots of sections of honors chemistry, quite a few general chemistry classes. I currently teach Research Methods and Practices along with four sections of honors chemistry. This is my ninth amazing year (as of 2018).

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

Goodness … so much wisdom gleaned over the years, probably most of it from books. Let me just quote Henry James: “Three things are important in human life. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”

What is your favorite thing about the job?

It may sound corny, but the students are my favorite thing. If you don’t like teenagers, you probably shouldn’t be a high school teacher. Another plus about the job is that it is unpredictable and requires that you be present and in the moment – this is a very life-affirming and vital way to be in the world.

What about your field or position do you think would surprise people the most?

For people outside of the field of education probably the most surprising aspect of the job is the amount of work teaching entails. That I work most of each weekend on my classes. Other than that … that I’m not really a science nerd. I’m more of an educator.

What is the most interesting or surprising thing about you?

Many people don’t know that I have a twin sister, who is retired now but worked as a registrar at a high school in Ashland, Oregon. I think the students would say that the most interesting thing about me is that I have held a lot of different types of jobs over the years, some of which are unusual. They are most taken with the fact that I worked for the U.S. Forest Service for five years and was a firefighter with a tanker truck crew stationed on the Scott River in the Klamath National Forest.

If you could rescue only one thing from your burning office, what would it be?

Okay, is this supposed to be a clever answer that reveals something about the individual or a practical answer? Honestly, I think I would grab one of the four fire extinguishers that are in my classroom before I grabbed anything else. Other than that I would make sure to grab my car keys and the school’s laptop.

Favorite music, favorite bands?

Oh, I like all kinds of music although I prefer nice singing voices to people yelling at me. I like Sia and Maroon Five and Rhianna and Alicia Keyes, Pink, Adele and the Weekend, and on and on. I can also go for some CW – like classic Merle Haggard or some Keith Urban.

Favorite sports team and favorite athlete?

Well, I grew up going to Candlestick Park watching Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and the Alou brothers, so I’m partial to the Giants. I really like sports in general, including such things as rugby, NASCAR, Australian rules football when I can catch it, ice hockey, cricket, but especially college football. Right now I’ve got my eye on Patrick Mahomes in the NFL – I think he’s incredibly talented and I love the fact that he seems happy and seems to love what he’s doing while still remaining genuine and humble.


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