This summer Clapham School welcomes a new face to the faculty. Recruiting a strong science teacher was a top priority for the administrative team. There is a lot of excitement about Mr. Whiteman. Learn more about our new science teacher for the Secondary School.
Q. Where did you grow up?
A. I grew up in Winfield, IL with my parents and two brothers. I attended Pleasant Hill Elementary, Monroe Middle School, and Wheaton North High school. I went to Biola University in California for Biochemistry, moved back to Chicago for a masters in Chemistry at the University of Chicago, and then began laboratory research at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Growing up, I loved tennis, books, video games, biking, and music.
Q. What were you doing before joining Clapham School?
A. Prior to Clapham, I was researching new materials for light-capturing devices at the Jiang Lab at UIC. I spent most of my time looking at atoms with a scanning tunneling microscope, a delicate piece of equipment that can image at the smallest of scales. I also taught as a chemistry professor at the College of Dupage and Waubonsee Community College since 2013.
Q. When did you first realize you wanted to study and teach science?
A. I had two wonderful chemistry and biology professors at Biola who really opened my eyes to the wonder of science. Growing up, I always admired my teachers and pictured myself in that profession, so naturally I found myself drawn to teaching opportunities. I’ve been tutoring science since I was about 15. I love meeting new students and encountering their unique perspectives in the classroom.
Q. What was the focus of your research in graduate school?
A. I am what you would call a materials researcher. You could also call me a physical chemist. My research objective was to create new materials that have applications in devices like computer chips, solar panels, LEDs, catalysts for industry, and other things with electrical/photo capabilities. Much of my work involved lasers, high-end microscopes, and other pieces of equipment that could test newly designed materials. I have a paper published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry that describes a new type of dye molecule that could potentially be used in solar cells.
Q. What is your vision for Clapham School's science program?
A. With my background in research and academia, I want to bring my unique perspective to the students at Clapham. That means giving students quality, hands-on experiments, good scientific theory at the chalkboard, and also common STEM practices that prepare them to succeed in college and beyond. My ultimate goal would be to prepare students for what life as a scientist is like no matter where the Lord takes them. I want to equip students with tools to help them thrive.
Q. What are some of your convictions about the relationship between faith and science?
A. First and foremost, I approach science like an explorer wandering through God’s creation, unlocking the mysteries of how He designed our universe. In the world things can get political, volatile, contentious, and downright nasty when science and faith collide. I am convicted to be a Christian first and a scientist second. I am also convicted to hold the Bible in higher esteem than any textbook. I believe all truth is God’s truth, and both historically and by definition, science’s mission is to discover truth. Knowing this, I believe that the Lord delights in students learning the intricacies of his handiwork, from the life cycle of a frog to the composition of Neptune. I do not want my students to be intimidated by secular science when they leave Clapham, but to have good scientific knowledge and skills in harmony with a biblical worldview.
Q. What are the benefits of learning science within a classical education framework?
A. There is a rich history of classical philosophers and inventors throughout the development of science. I think that the classical model allows students to be equipped not only with knowledge of math and science, but it also allows for rich discussion and logical engagement with the material. I think Clapham’s classical approach aligns with how science has been taught historically, as a matter of fact, and the idea that STEM and classical education are at odds is a relatively new one that can and should be dispelled.
Q. What interests do you pursue outside of teaching?
A. My wife and I enjoy going on walks, reading, visiting friends, going to the art museum, and hanging out in coffee shops. We’re both amateur foodies as well, so we enjoy cooking and going to new restaurants. In my spare time, I play tennis, go bowling, ride my bike, and enjoy the “occasional” video game. I’ve also been trying to get into woodworking as well.
Q. What is your favorite quote?
A. “You’ll worry less about what people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.” – David Foster Wallace
Clapham School is proud to welcome Mr. Whiteman as our new Secondary School science teacher. We look forward to seeing him in the halls and benefitting from his experience and obvious love for life and teaching. Welcome Philip! We are so glad you are here.