Chem and Physics teacher Amy Sirkis says courses will be hard

Advises students to keep up with the material, and don’t slack in the hallways either

By Benjamin Zaghi, Staff Writer

Watch out! New science teacher Ms. Amy Sirkis considers herself to be hard teacher. And make sure to walk fast, because slow walkers are one of her pet peeves.

Ms. Sirkis, who taught at Pilgrim School in Koreatown until now, will teach Chemistry, AP Chemistry, Physics and CIJE (robotics) this year.

“I think of myself as a hard teacher,” Ms. Sirkis said in an interview. “Chemistry and Physics are hard. But if you stay on top of the material and you are not afraid to ask questions, you guys will be fine.”

Although she is a new teacher, it is not Ms. Sirkis’s first encounter with the school. She helped two Shalhevet students get through AP Chem in previous years. One was then-junior Elon Glouberman, whose mom suggested she apply for an open science position.

“With the AP exam right around the corner, we pounded out the material,” said Elon. “She was very helpful in prepping me for the exam and pushing me to know the information inside out.”

At Pilgrim, Ms. Sirkis taught Chemistry, AP Chemisty, Physics and AP Physics.

Before that, she taught chemistry and physics at Renaissance Arts Academy, a public charter school in Los Angeles that challenges the traditional education model. There are no tests, textbooks, or even grade levels or classrooms at Renaissance, Ms. Sirkis told the Boiling Point.

And although she does plan on giving tests and homework at Shalhevet. Ms. Sirkis will use note packets instead of textbooks.

“This allows me to combine information from several books and present the students with the most important concepts,” Ms. Sirkis said.

Some of her students were asked to purchase textbooks, she added, but only to use as helpful references if they are struggling with a particular topic.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Ms. Sirkis came to Los Angeles to attend UCLA, where she discovered a passion for teaching as an assistant in a sophomore Organic Chemistry lab.

She said she was inspired by one of her teachers.

“You could be interested in a subject,” she said, “but I think what really pushes you over the top is whether you have a teacher that presents the material in an interesting way and really gets students involved in it.”

When Ms. Sirkis is not teaching, she loves spending time with her two rescued terriers, Bailey and Rockey. She also loves to quilt, and she is engaged and plans to be married in November, 2016.

Her fiancé, Alex Dollins, is a production editor on the National Geographic Network show The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan.