Feature: New Physics Teacher in the ‘Haus,’ M-A Welcomes Mr. Holthaus
Who used to be an electrical engineer, has travelled 1500 miles across India to raise money for charity, and recently completed his first marathon? The answer: Mr. Holthaus, M-A’s new physics teacher who found his passion for teaching through volunteering and community service.
Mr. Holthaus grew up in Madison, Wisconsin and later studied electrical engineering at the University of Wisconsin. According to Mr. Holthaus, science has always been his passion, and he ultimately decided to pursue engineering because he really likes “the application of science, and [being able] to actually build things.”
Prior to deciding to become a teacher, Mr. Holthaus had a career in engineering, specializing in chip design. He explains, “during that time I had been volunteering and doing a lot of tutoring and teaching at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels.” Because he enjoyed his education-based volunteer work so much, Mr. Holthaus found that he wanted to switch careers. He finished his credential program at San Francisco State University last year, and has now begun his first year of teaching at M-A.
Mr. Holthaus thought M-A would be a great place to start his teaching career after seeing “all the support the staff gives here and how it’s such a great environment…there’s so much you can do at this school.” His first impression of M-A was that the “students here are great; they’re hard workers.”
Now that he has taught for a couple weeks, Mr. Holthaus can reflect on his preliminary experiences. “The first week [was] intense. I think [it is] for any new teacher – getting a curriculum together, learning your way around the school, and figuring out how to use all the different websites and things, but you know at the bottom of it is the teaching.” He also notes that “everything has been memorable” so far, especially “getting to meet all the students and [starting to] work with them.”
Outside of teaching, Mr. Holthaus has many hobbies and interesting activities in which he takes part. He enjoys sailing, rock climbing, and running; two years ago he completed his first marathon. Also two years ago, Mr. Holthaus took a trip to to India and rode a three-wheel wheel taxi – which broke down in the process – from the North to South end of the country with a team of two people, something he describes as one of the “most amazing adventures of [his] life.” Last summer, Mr. Holthaus also interned as an engineer with a program called NASA AMES to work on SOFIA, a project focused on infrared astronomy.
This year, Mr. Holthaus is most excited to “get into the meat of physics” for the duration of school. He feels that the activities and demonstrations available to the M-A students and staff in the science department “let students get a picture of how the physical world behaves,” and is excited to begin sharing this with students.
It is clear that with his extensive background in both science and community service, Mr. Holthaus will not only make a great teacher but also a great contributor to the M-A community this year and in the future.