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The Piedmont Highlander

The Piedmont Highlander

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MHS Welcomes New Chemistry Teacher

Irma Muñoz
Sanii, the newest chemistry teacher at MHS

  MHS hired a new chemistry teacher, Babak Sanii, filling the vacant faculty position. 

  Previously, Sanii worked as a chemistry professor at the Claremont Colleges in Southern California. He taught for eight years before moving to the East Bay three and a half years ago. Since then he’s done pharmaceutical biotechnology work for a startup, developing mRNA vaccines to fight cancer. 

  “I’ve been in the biotech startup world, but I’ve missed teaching,” Sanii said. 

 Before Sanii’s arrival, MHS chemistry students were taking chemistry classes online, a decision made by PHS chemistry teacher John Savage and MHS Principal Irma Muñoz. Muñoz said they decided this because the search was taking longer than anticipated. However, Sanii now teaches the course in-person in the STEAM Building.

  “When I heard there was an opportunity here for [teaching] chemistry where students were previously taking online classes, it seemed like a way that I could help,” Sanii said.

  Muñoz said finding teachers that primarily study chemistry has been an issue for both Millennium and Piedmont in the past. Typically, a teacher that taught chemistry at PHS would cover the one class that Sanii now teaches.

  “It’s exciting because this is a person who knows chemistry. Sometimes you have someone with a biology background, or chemistry is a science they just want to try, and that’s not always the best match,” Muñoz said.

  Although his qualifications check out, Sanii must take the time to adjust to teaching non-collegiate level classes. Sanii said he hopes to not focus his classwork around rigid, non-universal grading scales. Instead, he opts to help students best understand concepts in personalized ways. 

  He said most assignments will be completed in class after a lecture to grant students on-the-spot help.

   “The way he is with his students is very encouraging. He’s always asking us to strive to do more,” senior Ricky Shelly said.

  As he gets used to teaching high school students, Sanni said he’s taken inspiration from how academically supportive the Millennium faculty is of their students.

  “It really was remarkable seeing how much they cared, and how in detail they would go into coming up with a plan that spanned multiple courses to help one particular student,” Sanii said.    

  Shelly said that Sanni’s approach to teaching is a balanced mix of traditional and experimental methods.

  “The smaller class sizes, loose structure and fast, yet understandable, teaching method, is extremely helpful for me,” Shelly said.

  Sanii will only teach chemistry at MHS for one year, because the credentials for teaching college and high school differ. However, he said he hopes to offer Millenium as much as he can during his time here.

  “I was talking to the anatomy teacher about possibly doing some guest lectures on vaccinations,” Sanii said.

  Sanii said he is also open to any student vocational discussions about career paths in science.

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About the Contributor
Phoenix Nwokedi
Phoenix Nwokedi, Staff Writer
Phoenix (12) is a staff writer for TPH.  Outside of school, they enjoy writing media and working on the BAVC Reel Stories student board.
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