Many students are intimidated by advanced science classes such as physics, engineering, or meteorology, but OLSH Physics Teacher, Emily Raker, wants to change that perception. She is committed to making science fun and accessible to everyone.
“Most students automatically make the assumption that physics is hard and scary, so I want to prove that it is approachable,” Emily said.
While Emily did always have a passion for teaching, she did not begin her journey in physics. After graduating from Chartiers Valley High School in 2013, Emily attended Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA.
“When I went to Mercyhurst, I thought that I was going to major in Chemistry and then be a Chem teacher,” Emily said. “I quickly fell in love with Physics and could not be happier with my decision to switch.”
She graduated in 2017 with her Bachelors of Science in Physics with minors in Chemistry and Math. She remained at Mercyhurst to complete her Masters in Secondary Education in 2018.
“I have always loved helping others in whatever way I could,” Emily said. “I started tutoring in the eighth grade and was a dance assistant starting in sixth grade. I knew that teaching was a good career choice for me.”
Emily recalled having a memorable first visit to OLSH as her teaching interview fell on “Decade Day” during Homecoming Week. Soon after, she joined the OLSH community in October of 2018 to teach AP Physics, College Prep Physics, Intro to Engineering, Meteorology, Environmental Science, and Astronomy.
“When I first visited it just felt right and I felt very accepted,” Emily said. “At OLSH everyone is very welcoming and ready to help whenever needed, it's like being a part of a large family.”
The 2018-2019 school year welcomed Emily along with seven other new teachers. She is thankful to not only have the support of those who had been at OLSH for years before, but to have such a close-knit group of colleagues who are also new to OLSH. Emily now passes on this same support to the new teachers who have come after her.
“It was like gaining a bunch of new friends,” Emily said. “It was comforting to know that there are more people in the same boat as we start at a new school. We have fun banter and we are all into some of the same things.”
In addition to teaching, Emily began the first OLSH Dance Team during the 2019-2020 year. Emily danced for 16 years, competitively for 10 and thought that this would be another fun way to get students involved in a creative way. The Dance Team has been put on hold due to Covid-19, but Emily hopes to hit the ground running next year to perform at home football and basketball games.
Emily has lived in the Pittsburgh area her entire life and is very close with her big family. She sees her parents, older brother, younger sister, and dog frequently and enjoys spending the holidays with them cooking and hanging out.
In her free time, Emily enjoys hiking, biking, and camping in the summers, as well as skiing in the winter. She enjoys dancing in her free time and loves going to the beach with her family on vacation in the summer.
Emily has enjoyed getting to know the OLSH community and looking forward to seeing the continued growth in her students.
“It’s fun to watch the kids grow so much from the beginning to the end of the year,” Emily said. “I love that the kids aren’t afraid to ask me lots of questions either. It helps me build that relationship with them to know that they are interested and curious in the material and they also want to get to know me too.”