Mark Vondracek

Evanston Township High School


Mark Vondracek

Mark got his PhD in particle physics 20 years ago and had such a good experience being a teaching assistant at university that he decided to start teaching in Chicago public schools. He was a runner-up for Illinois Teacher of the Year and is currently the President of the local School Board (governing the education of 6500 children). He has developed a range of STEM lessons and has authored dozens of articles for the teaching profession.

Mark’s view is that effective teaching is built around personal relationships between teacher and student, and that learning is done best by bringing skills and knowledge to bear on real-life situations. His teaching approach starts by gaining students’ trust and relating material and skills to their interests and goals in life, leading to a very flexible lesson structure.

Mark promotes global awareness and citizenship by focusing on political debates where science plays a role, and he encourages and coaches students who enter academic contests. His Project Excite works with middle school children from minority backgrounds to improve their science and mathematics skills in preparation for AP courses in high school. As a result, more students of colour have been able to attend college in his community.