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Q&A with Middle School Science Teacher Ace Schwarz

Tell us about yourself in three sentences.
My name is Ace Schwarz, and my pronouns are they/them/theirs. I am non-binary, which means I don't identify as male or female, and I spent the last five years teaching seventh grade science in Maryland. I am also incredibly passionate about LGBTQ+ issues, and I do a lot of advocacy on social media and in my personal life. I graduated with a degree in Mid-Level Education with concentrations in science and English language arts, and I also have a Master's in Online Learning.

What are five words to describe you as a teacher?
Quirky, passionate, inclusive, life-long learner 

What are your signature strengths?
I've never taken the VIA before, so this was really neat to see which traits it showed! My greatest strength is Love of Learning, followed by Curiosity and Leadership. I think those fit me pretty well!

Why did you choose to go into education?
Interesting story... I was supposed to take over my family's business and was all set to look at business colleges. Then I got to teach Sunday school at my church and fell in love with teaching. I'm still not 100% sure how I went from teaching pre-school at church to middle schoolers, but I absolutely love it. I've learned that I am definitely not an office person!
 
What do you love about science?
Oh gosh, there is so much to love! Science helps explain the world around us, so you see things in a whole new way and learn how it's all connected. Our understanding of science is constantly changing, and I think that's a really beautiful thing. Plus, it's really epic to watch students make connections in what we're learning to their own lives and watch them explore on their own.
 
Who or what inspires you?
My mom, for sure. She is my superhero and biggest supporter in life. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I am also constantly inspired by the elders who came before me and fought so hard so future LGBTQ+ generations would have rights and protections.  
 
What appealed to you about Shipley?
There's something really special about coming to a community and being accepted exactly as you are, and Shipley feels like an incredibly welcoming place. I also love and appreciate how Shipley focuses on the whole student, and not just on academics.
 
What are you most excited for in your new position?
I am excited to connect with the community and develop new friendships. I'm also super excited to teach such a wide range of topics.
 
What is something you have done in your career or life that you are really proud of?
I do a lot of advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community and the importance of creating inclusive educational environments. I was recognized by GLSEN as their 2019 Educator of the Year for this work, and I traveled to NYC to deliver a speech in front of 500 people, many of whom were LGBTQ+ celebrities that I've looked up to my entire life. Talk about an epic night! That visibility has allowed me to take the work I'm doing and reach even more teachers/parents across the country, and I'm so thankful for that. 
 
What do you do for fun or to relax?
I love to go on walks and explore. I'm also a huge fan of traveling and have been all over, including many comic cons. I am a massive nerd, and I will talk about Marvel, Star Wars, and anime to anyone! But there is also something incredibly epic about curling up with a good mug of tea and my cat (his name is Panther).
 
What are you currently watching/reading/listening to?
Watching: This summer has been the perfect time to catch up on shows! I'm working my way through Money Heist and re-watching Marvel movies (Spider-Man: Far From Home is a favorite). I also just finished the newest seasons of Queer Eye and Dark, and enjoyed Babysitter's Club way more than I was expecting!
Reading: So much!! I love YA, and my current "Read" pile includes The Stars and the Blackness Between Us by Junauda Petras, A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow, See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng, and American as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar.
Listening: To be honest, I usually put my music on shuffle and listen to anything with a good beat! I normally don't like albums, so I wouldn't say I have a favorite artist. I've got so many singles from such a wide range of genres. My absolute favorite podcast is The Magnus Archives. It's an incredible mystery/horror/thriller podcast, and I really can't say more without spoiling it. 
 
What are people surprised to learn about you?
I attended United Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg and completed a program in Congregational Faith Formation. It means I can be a Director of Christian Ed or a Youth Director, and I entered the program to help support the church I was attending back in Chambersburg. I earned this certificate as I was in the middle of getting my Master's degree and my National Geographic certification, so it was an incredibly hectic year! 
 
How will you bring awareness about LGBTQ+ communities to Shipley?
Being non-binary and queer is a big part of my identity, so just being visible and myself brings awareness that society is not based on binary thinking (male and female). It's super important to acknowledge the power of visibility, so I'll often reference LGBTQ+ scientists in class that have contributed to the topics we're learning about. The LGBTQ+ community has such a rich history, and it's epic for students to learn about that history to see the progress made and to see how much still needs to be done. I also do a lot of education about disrupting binary and heteronormative thinking to make more inclusive environments and would love to add to the discussions that are already taking place at Shipley. 
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The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.