I was offered a job as a teacher’s assistant in the general chemistry laboratory, and it changed my life. This was what I loved doing, and what I had a talent for: teaching science.”
Irene Frank grew up in Izmir, Turkey, where her parents worked at the American Collegiate Institute (ACI). “While my dad taught math and my mom worked in the school library, I tore around campus with other teachers’ kids.” Irene became an ACI student in 7th grade, and followed the Turkish system of choosing an academic track by 10th grade. She chose the academically-rigorous science and mathematics track, which included chemistry, biology, physics, and upper level math in addition to language and social studies.
Although Irene was met with resistance as counselors and friends questioned her aptitude for the sciences, she was undaunted. “I found myself determined to be in the science-math track, and determined to excel in it.” She graduated at the top of her class and of her track. At Scripps College, Irene took liberal arts courses in addition to general chemistry, and was offered a teacher’s assistant position in the lab. “I found that my experiences in other subjects helped me teach science.”
Irene spent a summer teaching English to Turkish students, and found it difficult but rewarding. “I returned to college determined to become a better teacher and to focus on chemistry.” She earned her master’s degree in education and her teaching credential from Claremont Graduate University.