Where They’re Headed: Annie Connolly-Sporing ‘20

The chemistry major has taken her experience to the Grayson School, where she is teaching science.

Equipped with a chemistry major and a biochemistry concentration, Annie Connolly-Sporing ‘20 is teaching middle and high school science classes at the Grayson School in Radnor, Pa., along with upper-level electives.

“I first heard about the Grayson School from my thesis advisor, Dr. Robert Broadrup. He was working there at the beginning of the year, and I started out as somewhat of a TA in his class,” said Connolly-Sporing. “After working at Grayson for the first semester, they invited me back to teach two more courses independently in the second semester, and then offered me a full-time position for the next year!”

Connolly-Sporing additionally said that she had been prepared for the opportunity by her time at Haverford, not only in terms of her chemistry knowledge, but also by being inspired by the way she was taught that information. Lou Charkoudian, an associate professor of chemistry, was a particular influence.

“I have learned so much from her classes, but also her unique and engaging teaching style is something I hope to emulate as I move into the next phase of my life,” said Connoly-Sporing. “Lou is definitely my teaching role model.”

While she is focused on her teaching at the Grayson School, Connolly-Sporing is also hoping to be able to continue her research on biochemistry of bees.

“My senior thesis was titled ‘Studies toward the CRISPR-Cas9 mediated knockdown of four beta-octopamine receptors in the western honey bee (Apis mellifera),’ which focused on biochemical research on honeybees,” she said. “The Grayson School also keeps a few hives of honey bees, so we are hoping to do some research on these organisms there, which will likely be some form of an extension of my thesis research.”

Connolly-Sporing hopes that her classroom helps increase accessibility and interest in chemistry, and science as a whole, for students of all backgrounds.

“I know that chemistry can be a really daunting subject, and that it scares many people, but I think it’s important to show students how science plays a role in their everyday lives, and I hope that I can get them to enjoy learning about it,” she said. “I also am looking forward to teaching more than just hard facts and concepts, but also bringing aspects of social issues into chemistry classes. Many times people think that because it is so empirical, that issues of identity and diversity do not come up in science classes, but I know that that is far from true.”

“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series reporting on the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.