Where can you find a guy who can climb mountains, play jazz piano, build robots, and teach physics, perhaps all at the same time? Behind the doors of room 752, Honors Physics and AP Computer Science teacher Sean Fottrell works his magic.
Fottrell is a Bay Area native and a graduate of De La Salle High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in “values, technology, science, and society” at Stanford University. He has been teaching physics at CVHS for the past 17 years. Currently, Fottrell teaches part time at CVHS to be able to spend more time with his family.
Fottrell has always had the goal of becoming a teacher.
“I knew when I was in high school that I wanted to go into teaching,” he said. “In high school, I first started feeling like I was thinking differently about the world. And I wanted to share that with others.”
He was also influenced by a high school calculus teacher who inspired him to go into teaching himself.
Fottrell’s passion for teaching is definitely reflected in his classes. “I love being in the class with kids. It’s exactly why I went into teaching. I get to see those ‘Ah-hah!’ moments,” he said.
Fottrell also dedicated a lot of extra time and effort into making lesson plans for the Honors Physics classes that did not yet have a teacher during the teacher shortage at the beginning of the year.
“It was like working full time again,” he said, “I tried to keep all the classes moving at the same pace.”
However, students are vastly grateful for Fottrell’s contributions.
“He helped our class stay on track,” said junior physics student Meredith Neyer.
Besides being crucial to the CVHS physics department, Fottrell has also been developing the AP Computer Science course and designing its curriculum, as the course was introduced to the school only three years ago.
Outside of school, Fottrell is an avid rock climber. He often travels to Yosemite to hike and climb. His hobbies also include playing jazz piano and building electronics. Fottrell jokingly complained that he has several different building projects he wants to undertake at any given time, but he can’t do them all.
It’s obvious that Fottrell has a lifelong love of science and teaching it to others.
When asked what his favorite part of teaching was, Fottrell replied, “The actual teaching of class is a real joy,” but also commented that he loves the “magical fun” of science and physics.
He enjoys being able to not only teach but also do the science for himself and see it in action.