New Chemistry teacher Dr. Hori has long background in science


BP Photo by Evan Beller

NEW: Dr. Hori, who started at Shalhevet Oct. 11, has taught college students in the past but said he was excited to work with high schoolers because they’ve made fewer life decisions so far.

By Joshua Gamson, Torah Editor

Though he’s now teaching four Shalhevet Chemistry classes, Dr. Roderick Hori — one of two teachers replacing Mr. Chris St. Germaine – has never taught a chemistry class before. 

Still, he has a strong background in chemistry, and a very strong background in science, having taught at the high school and college levels. He’s especially interested in creating labs that connect to topics his students are studying.

“I really like teaching things from the perspective that you can use it to answer — at a simpler level — just to answer questions,” Dr. Hori said in an interview. “Hopefully learn things that you can apply to the things around you even if you’re not a science major. And if you are a science major, hopefully that you learned something that you can use in either your career or in a research-driven kind of way.”

Dr. Hori arrived in early October to teach four of Mr. St. Germaine’s seven classes – one Honors and three regular chemistry classes.  (Mr. St. Germain’s other classes are being taught by new teacher Mr. Rico Tan).  

Born outside of Fresno in a small farming community named Reedley, Dr. Hori attended UCLA where he got a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, and then moved on to UC San Diego where he received his Ph.D. in Biology.

He then took a position at the University of Tennessee’s Health Science Center, where he split his time between teaching classes like molecular biology for medical and dental students and doing research. The last project he worked on was studying UBTF E210K Neuroregression Syndrome. A rare pediatric neurodegenerative disease with about 12 confirmed cases as of now.

“I didn’t want to only be a teacher, so when I took the faculty position, basically the way my time was split was probably kind of the way my interests were divided,” Dr. Hori said. 

“Teaching is a good opportunity — it actually helps, especially medical and graduate student classes; it helps you keep current,” he said. “But it also, it’s just a fun interaction to be in the classroom and just to kind of be able to try and help students to reach the goals that they wanted.”

In 2018, he and his family decided to move back to California, where he taught science classes at two high schools: Marymount High School and Chaminade College Preparatory High School.

Teaching is a good opportunity — it actually helps, especially medical and graduate student classes. It helps you keep current.

— Dr. Rod Hori, new Chemistry teacher

He also wanted to switch from teaching college students to high schoolers because in high school, the students are not as sure of what they want to go into, but by the time they are in graduate school, they usually are already certain about their future. 

Dr. Hori’s hobbies include watching pro sports, with his favorite sport to watch being baseball and favorite sport to play being softball, which he played in both undergrad and grad school. 

His favorite teams are the Dodgers and the Lakers, both of which he has been a fan of since he was a kid. Dr. Hori tries to go to Dodger games about twice a year.

Currently, his favorite player on the Dodgers is Clayton Kershaw, but of all time, he said his favorite player is Jackie Robinson.

Dr. Hori has also gained both more knowledge and has become a bigger fan of sports his kids played, including soccer and ice hockey. 

“Most of my hobbies revolve around doing things with my kids,” Dr. Hori said. 

He acknowledged that arriving in October was unusual for a high school teacher or class.

“I know that probably with the transition of teachers in the middle of the year is probably a little bit bumpy — hopefully that’s getting a little bit smoothed out,” Dr. Hori said. “But it’s been fun and I really like it here.”