The sound of boiling fills the air, as does the faint smell of sulfur. A buzz of chatter comes from students seated at the lab tables. With all of the things going on every day in the chemistry classroom, how does one find order and balance amongst the chaos? The answer is a teacher who knows how to handle anything that comes at them.
For many years Darlene Fizen has helped NUHS students achieve their full potential in various sciences. Last year, she only had chemistry classes. Now, she teaches biology as well. When asked which she prefers, she said that “[a one class schedule] really does benefit students, because you become an expert on the subject and that helps the students achieve more. However, it is nice having biology again . . . I am returning to my roots. Back in 1996 when I started at NUHS, I taught an early bird chemistry class that no other teacher wanted [as well as] biology. Then . . . biology and zoology, then chemistry and biology, then chemistry and 9th-grade science, to all chemistry, and now back to chemistry and biology!”
So teaching now has to be very different from how it was in the 90s, right? According to Filzen, “Information is so available now compared to then. Presentations were based on the overhead projector, film projector, and filmstrip projectors with tape recorders that said the dialogue and the filmstrip would beep to move the slide ahead. Now, everything is digital and on youtube . . . even with this technology, my teaching style is the same, technology can’t take the place of science labs. Computers can’t take the place of good old fashioned teaching . . . I am still apt to have students read and do assignments on paper because that can not be recreated on the computer. Teaching trends come and go, but good teaching never changes.” Labs are the main component of many of Filzen’s classes, especially Chemistry.
As for students, Filzen’s hands-on teaching style allows for a more in-depth student and teacher connection. As one of the veteran teachers on the teaching staff of New Ulm High School, she has made a large impact on students of the past and continues to play a significant role in the lives of current students.