Drew Hilburn has been teaching physics for 13 years at the same school he attended as a teenager.
Drew Hilburn initially thought he would one day become an engineer, but teaching runs in his blood.
Both his parents were teachers. His dad taught math and computer science at the university level, and his mom was an elementary school teacher.
“In high school if you’d asked me, I would’ve never been a teacher," Hilburn said. "I would’ve just suggested that it was boring and I wouldn’t want the kind of work that my parents did—almost rebellious, I guess.”
But when he was in his junior year of college, he had an epiphany that he didn't want to work in front of a computer screen for the rest of his life, which was what he envisioned an engineering job would be like. He realized he enjoyed his work in the tutoring lab far more.
And so, Hilburn carried on the family trade.
Because he wasn't formally trained in education though, Hilburn said the first few years were challenging for him and that it took four years before he was truly comfortable in the classroom. He is now in his 24th year of teaching, 13 of which were spent at his own former high school, Mainland, where he currently teaches physics.
One of his favorite part about teaching is that he gets to talk about the subject he loves and cultivate relationships with his students, some which he has had for all four years of high school. He said that allows them to communicate well together and build on shared experiences.
“I’m really fortunate," Hilburn said. "I don’t think that’s something that a lot of teachers get.”
He also uses quotes in his classroom to inspire thought among his students on topics like the idea of lifelong learning and current events that make an impact, such as the recent shootings around the country. Hilburn said those are the kinds of conversations people should have around the country, and the classroom is no exception.
“What does that mean about our society and where are we at?" Hilburn said. "Those are great questions to kind of explore, not just with students, but with people in general.”