Teacher Feature: Amy Alvarez

Teacher+Feature%3A+Amy+Alvarez

By Aimee Buttenbaum, Co-T/E-Life-Editor

A trip up the glass staircase and a sharp left followed by an immediate right will lead any student to the chemistry room occupied by Amy Alvarez, a teacher who is more than familiar with the school as she begins her 18th year here.

Over this time span, Alvarez has taught many science courses, including the old ICPE (Introduction to Chemistry, Physics and the Environment) and all levels of chemistry and physical science. She was also a gifted support teacher for several years, but among all of these courses, chemistry has been the constant. 

Although Alvarez eventually found her passion for chemistry,  she didn’t always know what she wanted to pursue. Originally, she received her bachelor’s degree in food science.

“I loved my coursework while I was at Penn State. I just didn’t love working in the industry after I graduated,” Alvarez said. “I did give it a shot and worked in the field for one year, and I knew after a year that it just wasn’t my passion. I wanted to work with people more and less in just a lab, so I wanted the best of both worlds, and I felt that education would give me that.”

Alvarez sees herself as a people person, an attribute that she identified when she was working as a lifeguard in high school. 

“I loved teaching swimming lessons,” Alvarez said. “I really enjoyed working with younger children, but I never really saw myself as an elementary school teacher.”

Along her journey to becoming a teacher, Alvarez explored many different interests. She received her teaching certification in chemistry from Gettysburg College, her master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling from McDaniel College in Maryland, and her principal certification from Immaculata University. She even considered being a lawyer in college, a choice that would have had her following in her older brother’s footsteps. 

“I find (law) very interesting, but I don’t like to read like my brother does,” Alvarez said. “I thought, boy, I just don’t know if I would enjoy it enough because of the volume of reading that’s required in that profession.”

Her degree in guidance and counseling was a suggestion made by her father, who was also a guidance counselor 

“I do think it helps me, especially today in my work with students and helping them to manage their schedules and (make) very difficult life choices about the challenging curriculum that we offer here at Conestoga,” Alvarez said. 

Outside of the classroom, Alvarez spends time with her four children and two grandchildren. 

“My family keeps me very busy, and I enjoy every minute with them,” Alvarez said.  “I enjoy relaxing and being with my family, whether it’s hanging out by the pool or working in the garden or going to the beach.” 

While Alvarez teaches her students about chemistry in the classroom — such as her favorite unit, stoichiometry, which deals with molar mass — she values the lessons her students have taught her. 

“I would say what I’ve really taken away from my students is how much they’ve taught me about people and approach to life,” Alvarez said. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint, in education as well as life, and I think, daily, my students help remind me of that and that I’m not done any more than they are.”