Powerhouse biology teacher leaves RAHS cell

Biology teacher Mr. Gwinn talks with students in biology group discussion
Photo by Sam Hart

On Wednesday, 23 May 2018, biology and health teacher Nathan Gwinn announced to his class that this will be his last year. He will be teaching at Vashon High School next year, a shorter commute from his home in Port Orchard, Washington.

“The commute is ridiculous, it’s untenable, I can’t do it long term. It’s at minimum an hour and a half each direction,” said Gwinn. “So after some time, and me talking with my wife a lot about it, it’s just what we needed for our family.”

Even in his short time here, Gwinn’s teaching experience at RAHS has been unexpectedly interesting and educational on both ends, even though he didn’t think he would enjoy teaching at the school.

“My past teaching experience has been with kids with much more personal damage or personal trauma in their lives, and so when I first got here, I wasn’t sure if I would like it that much,” said Gwinn, “and I told my students this, I wasn’t sure if I would even like teaching them that much.”

Gwinn was proven wrong. He found he enjoyed teaching here even more than he had at previous schools.

“Teaching these kids basically taught me that I’m a pretty good teacher for the most part, in that it’s actually something I want to do long term. I’ve always been thinking, ‘I want to go into administration, that’s what I want to do, I wanna get out of teaching’ for whatever reason,” said Gwinn. “But these kids have taught me I want to teach for a while, this is what I want to do. It’s been huge for me; it’s really encouraging and inspiring to be able to teach kids and then see them do some of the things that you teach them.”

Being able to see students directly apply what he’s taught them has been a unique experience for Gwinn, in comparison to when he taught in Tennessee, where he focused more on students’ personal growth than the curriculum itself.

“In my past, I would teach them and try to keep my kids from making horrible decisions or just help them be healthy, help them grow and be healthier people,” said Gwinn. “Here, it’s like, I get to do that and then so much more. It’s been really awesome.”

Sophomore Joe Pacini agrees that Gwinn has learned a lot from his time at RAHS.
“I’m really bummed that he is [leaving], but I think it’s good for him,” said Pacini. “It’s a new opportunity for him, and I think he’s learned a lot from the class of 2020 and I really like that.”

Pacini has been good friends with Gwinn, having bonded with him during one of the info nights.

“Mr. Gwinn and I really bonded on one of the info nights because I hung out in his room, so we really started talking,” said Pacini. ”I’ve always been one to share out and ask questions, and his 5th period is really a lot of fun, so that’s basically how we bonded and strengthened our relationship over the school year.”

Pacini thinks Gwinn is a very unique teacher, and that in his absence, next year’s biology class won’t be the same.

“Mr. Gwinn’s a very unique teacher that has a very unique style of teaching. So I think it will be a lot different for freshmen that will take biology next year,” said Pacini. “But I also think that him leaving makes sense just because he’s commuting so far, and the things he wanted to do in Highline didn’t work out. So I find it reasonable that he’s doing it.”

Mr. Gwinn’s students appreciate what he’s done as a teacher and will miss him.

“I’ll remember that we’ll always banter each other and just talk crap about each other a lot. That was a lot of fun,” said Pacini. “If Mr. Gwinn reads this, tell him that I love him and thank you for being a good biology teacher.”

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