I spend significant effort to make sure that students who walk out of my classroom at the end of the year will be ready for college, work or whatever else they choose to do.”
Zach Powers spent much of his childhood in his father’s shop tinkering and building things from spare parts, including an air-powered canon that could shoot an apple over 500 feet. “My love for building, experimenting and discovering how things work is still very much alive today.” Zach’s love of physics came alive in high school and he discovered a passion for teaching while studying physics at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) where he worked as a teaching assistant and tutorial-session teacher.
After graduating from UCSD, Zach spent a semester teaching English to science and engineering students at the Technical University of Sofia, Bulgaria, and two summers working on the trail crew at Rocky Mountain National Park. During the school year, he worked as a tutor and substitute high school teacher.
After earning his MA in education from UC Berkeley, Zach student-taught at Longfellow Middle School and El Cerrito High School before teaching physics and Earth science at Skyline High School in Oakland. He has taught in Oakland, San Mateo, and Davis. He considers integrating project-based learning (PBL) on a large scale his biggest accomplishment in his first four years of teaching. “Students who are underserved by traditional educational methods, and tend to do poorly as a result, often show a whole new side when given the opportunity to do a project that has meaning to them personally.”
Since 2009, Zach has taught physics and chemistry at Da Vinci Charter Academy, a charter school in Davis which is part of the New Tech Network family of schools. Da Vinci Charter Academy had never offered science before 2009 and Zach is responsible for creating and implementing 100% project-based physics and chemistry curriculums. He is also the advisor to “team blend”, a group of physics students who most recently completed a stem related service learning project in a remote Nicaraguan village.