Featured Teacher: Alex Long

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Alex Long

By Michael Mishler
Contributor

Q: What made you want to teach at Washtenaw?
A: Well, I like the program. I like the idea of students taking college classes in high-school. I like the freedom that the teachers have to make decisions about their curriculum, and I just like the atmosphere of teaching high school on a college campus.

Q: What makes the Middle College different from other high schools?
A: Well certainly the idea of being on a college campus makes it feel different, and also I like the idea that students take a lot of personal responsibility and make some choices for themselves about what they want to do. I think that makes school feel very different for students when they get more control over it.

Q: What is your favorite pastime?
A: Gosh, I don’t know. I mean, nowadays it’s doing stuff with my kids. I have two young sons, so we spend a lot of time doing stuff outside together, canoeing, bike-riding, that sort of stuff.

Q: If you could go anywhere in the world for free, where and why?
A: That’s a hard one. I’d probably go back to the Galapagos Islands, because it was such an amazing place, and I’d like to go and see more of the islands.

Q: What is the most interesting historical event to you?
A: Oh man, that’s hard too. For me, because I’m and Earth Science guy, I tend to think of historical geological events. I’m sort of interested in how Earth Science affects civilization and society. For the last few years, I’ve done a guest lecture for Mr. Rosewig [Middle College English teacher] on Mount Tambora and the eruption in 1815 that led to the year without a summer in 1816 and how that affected Mary Shelley when she wrote Frankenstein. So I think that’s pretty high on my list. It’s the most powerful volcanic eruption recorded in human history and it had global impacts, which I think is really interesting.

Q: Who was your role model growing up?
A: I don’t know if I had one specific role model, but I was always really affected or influenced by science communicators, particularly Carl Sagan. I was in love with Cosmos, the original mini-series that Sagan produced. I was also interested in Jacques Cousteau, the guy that invented SCUBA. I loved his documentaries about underwater exploration. Those were the kinds of things that I was really into as a kid.

Q: What is your best advice for student success?
A: It’s gotta be something around owning your education and taking control over it for yourself and committing to it.

Q: What is your favorite song right now?
A: I don’t know if I have one favorite song at the moment. My musical tastes are wide-ranging. I have been listening to the new Beyonce album “Lemonade” which I really like, it’s really good. But I don’t know if I have a favorite song. It changes with what’s happening, I guess.

Q: What worries you the most about the 2016 Election?
A: The thing that worries me the most is this atmosphere of science-denial and a lack of science literacy. This worries me not just because of the candidates, but in general there seems to be an attitude of science-denial and a feeling that science can’t be trusted, and that’s a problem for me as a science teacher.

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