Astrophysics, Bow Ties and Chemistry: The ABCs of David Friedlander-Holm

David Friedlander-HolmWatch out, Mr. Broudy! There’s a new bow tie in town. Meet David Friedlander-Holm, the physics-loving, bow tie-wearing science teacher who joined Bay’s faculty this school year.

For David, teaching science – and especially physics – has always been his dream. “I literally raised my hand in my high school physics class and said I wanted to teach. I’ve been in line to become a physics teacher since I was 16.” Recognizing his goal so early on led to some extra benefits. Even before leading a classroom, David notes, “I was able to watch what works well and what works poorly, and think about curriculum for years because I knew that teaching was what I wanted to do.”

After graduating from Minnesota’s Carleton College, David joined the science staff at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire for his first teaching gig. It was there that the ubiquitous bow tie took hold. “My mentor, John Blackwell, the observatory director at Exeter, was always wearing a bow tie or a bolo. For Exeter’s ‘Twin Day,’ he said that we should both wear bow ties…at the end of the day, he gave me the one I had borrowed. It was the first bow tie in my collection and still one of my favorites.”

David and his bow ties next moved to DC, where he taught for six years before heading to San Francisco. One of his first stops was The Bay School. “I visited Bay of my own volition, and I loved it.” Within a matter of months, David had joined the ranks of Bay’s stellar faculty.

This trimester, David is teaching Conceptual Physics and Chemistry. “My favorite thing about teaching physics is that I get to stand on a chair and drop things every day,” he says, laughing. “Dr. P. yelled at me the first week of school when I stood on a table, saying ‘You don’t know how weak those tables are!’ So now I stand on chairs.” Still to come is one of David’s favorite courses: Cosmology. Teaching the course in T2 and T3, he says, is something he’s especially looking forward to. “I love being an astrophysics or astronomy teacher. Helping teens recognize that they are a piece of this vast, immense, unfathomably large universe is amazing. Plus, the universe is spectacularly gorgeous.”

And, as he’s gotten to know the community, there’s one aspect of Bay that particularly stands out: Morning Meeting. “I love Morning Meeting. I love the sit [meditation]. I start almost all of my classes with a sit. It’s really healthy, and helps slow things down and brings focus back to what you’re doing…This is something that is important.”

Welcome to Bay, Mr. Friedlander-Holm! Stay tuned for more profiles on our newest faculty members throughout the school year.