Ready to Bond with Latin’s Newest Chemistry Teacher?


Latin’s science center, located on the fourth floor of the Middle School. Photographer: Eden Raviv

As the newest addition to Latin’s Science Department, chemistry teacher Julie Plewa is excited to start her teaching experience at Latin.

For most of her life, Ms. Plewa aspired to be a veterinarian, and began college on a pre-veterinary track. “I always enjoyed working with students. I was a swim instructor and I always had a lot of fun working with kids and building their swimming skills. Since I already had a heavy chemistry course-load from my pre-veterinary track, I thought maybe I’ll do that as a career… with the plan of teaching high school,” she said. Ms. Plewa explains that her dream job, however, would be acting in a Broadway musical. “My whole life I have been a huge fan of Broadway,” she said; her favorite is Les Miserables. In her free time, she loves to cook, bake, and watch Ted Lasso.

Growing up in Glenview, Illinois, Ms. Plewa loved to swim in her early years and later coached water polo and swimming at Lincoln Park High School, where she also taught science for seven years. Ms. Plewa hopes to coach Latin’s water polo and swimming teams, especially given that her impression of Latin students at swim meets attracted her to the school. “The Latin kids [demonstrated] good sportsmanship, even when they lost,” she said. “They were inclusive and graceful.”

When she was a high school student, Ms. Plewas’s physics teacher inspired her. She considered physics to be a difficult class, but she rose to and eventually exceeded the “really high standard” her teacher set, and now, Ms. Plewa aims to push her own students to new heights, using a similar approach.

Ms. Plewa says her favorite moments in the classroom are when the class has fun together. “Not everyone is going to become a chemist or scientist, and that is ok with me,” she said, “but getting to know each other is really what it’s all about.” Rather than lecturing with PowerPoint presentations, she prefers to teach using labs and other hands-on activities. In her opinion, engaging the class is the best way to teach.