JSchool Science Legend Leaves Hopkins
“Science is not just memorizing facts, but it’s a way of investigating things and solving problems,” is one of the many mantras of science teacher Bruce Kaplan.
After working for twelve years as a member of the Hopkins Science Department, Kaplan is set to retire at the end of this 2016-2017 school year.
While attending University of California at Berkeley, across the bay from his hometown of San Francisco, he became interested in science, specifically biology and immunology. Although his parents did not pursue science, his sister is involved with scientific research at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. He started work for a company, Seagram, a distiller and seller of alcoholic beverages, before teaching first in New York and then at Hopkins.
Beginning in the second term of 2005, Kaplan initially was teaching as a second career, taking over for science teacher Sarah Leite on her maternity leave. She said that she “was reassured that there was a knowledgeable, dedicated teacher stepping in” to her place on The Hill. Leite recalled her feelings, saying “I knew my students would be in good hands for the rest of the school year.”
Kaplan came to Hopkins to teaching both chemistry and science for seventh and eighth graders. His work ethic is seen by other members of the Science Department, including Ian Clark, Junior School science teacher, who said, “Kaplan has been a devoted Junior School teacher for a long time. He has had a major role in making Science 7 and 8 the great classes that they are today.” Leite also commented, saying, “I love that Mr. Kaplan is fun and engaging in the classroom, especially with the Junior School students. He knows how to incorporate learning and enjoyment into each lesson.”
Kaplan’s personality and excitement for science was noticed by both teachers and students. Jennifer Stauffer, Hopkins science teacher, showcased his personality, saying, “I like that Mr. Kaplan is always upbeat. I don’t recall ever seeing him not in a good mood!”
One of his students, Melody Parker ’19, commented on the entertaining nature of his class: “We had a lot of inside jokes in his class, which made this class interesting and full of heart.”
In the halls of Malone, Kaplan is commonly known for sharing a new science fact or giving suggestions for scientific reading material. Science teacher Kristen Abraham recalled her teaching experiences with Kaplan: “He is funny, thoughtful and always has an interesting tidbit about science to share based on whatever cool book he is currently reading.”
Leite continued: “He takes care to prepare for each day and loves to find relevant articles, websites, and games to engage his students in the topics they are discussing. I always look forward to a suggestion from Bruce regarding an engaging book to read or video to watch.”
Dr. Phillip Stewart, Head of the Hopkins Science Department, explained Kaplan’s interest for learning: “Bruce is one of the most curious people that I know. Always reading about science during his free periods, Bruce really cares deeply about helping his students navigate their deeper questions.”
Kaplan said, “I think that it’s just fun to know why things happen. Hopefully, students came into my class liking science and continued liking science after the experiences from my class.”
In addition to being a teacher of many, Kaplan also advises seventh- and eighth-graders. His buddy adviser, Clark, said, “He always has ideas for fun events that our groups can do together. Holiday gift exchanges, first snow day predictions, trips to the movies, and waffle days are just a few of the things we’ve done.”
In retirement, Kaplan plans to spend some time doing both personal and scientific work. “I will probably travel some,” he said, but quickly followed up replying, “I know there is a high school near me so I may do some substitute teaching or be a leave replacement there.”
As Kaplan leaves The Hill, he advised students, both science-savvy and not, by saying, “Never stop learning. There is always more to learn and more to grow as students.”