Chemists in the Real World:
HIGH SCHOOL CHEMISTRY TEACHER
WALTON HIGH SCHOOL, COBB COUNTY, GA
Jennice Ozment has been teaching high school chemistry at Walton High School in Cobb County, Georgia, for six years. She spent
20 years working in the paper and oil and gas industries before
transitioning into teaching. Two semesters’ worth of tertiary oil
recovery research as an undergrad helped to launch her career,
which steadily progressed into positions of increasing responsibility with international research projects and achievements during
this tenure. However, the company she was working for in 2004
was shut down, and Ozment decided to stay at home, immersing
herself in volunteer activities at her sons’ high school.
At about the same time, she was diagnosed with a neurological condition affecting her motor abilities that made a return
to industry difficult. Fortunately, her involvement at the local
high school led to substitute
teaching, which turned into
a full-time teaching position.
Ozment says her own high
school teacher, Mrs. Johannes-
sen (Mrs. Jo), ignited her interest
in chemistry. She now seeks to
do the same for the next gen-
eration. She says, “I like to see
a student’s eyes light up when
they ‘get it’.”
She received the Hach-ACS
scholarship for chemists who
want to change careers and
become teachers, and she
credits the ACS for allowing
her to explore this opportunity.
She earned a Master’s of Arts
in Teaching in chemistry, and
has served as the lead on-level
chemistry teacher at Walton
High School. She also serves as
the chief chemical safety officer
at the school, where she is in
charge of making sure safety
equipment is in proper working
order, chemicals are inventoried
and stored correctly, and that
the faculty is properly trained.
THIS IS HOW SHE WORKS:
How did you decide to become a chemist?
My high school chemistry teacher, Mrs. Jo, ignited my interest
in chemistry. She was very positive, patient, and an incredible
teacher. I took two years of chemistry from her and was her lab
assistant my senior year. Not only did she teach me chemistry,
she showed me how a great teacher cares about her students,
doesn’t give up on them, and continually gives them positive
feedback. She attended my wedding, held our firstborn son in her
arms, and has been my friend for these last 34 years. Mrs. Jo has
always been and will always be an inspiration to me.
Please describe your typical day on the job.
I arrive at school around 7:45 and have cafeteria duty from 8:05
to 8: 15. School starts at 8: 20. I teach 2 classes in a row from 8: 20
to 10:30 and then have 55 minutes for planning. I teach another
class from 11:35 until 12:30, and then I get 55 minutes for lunch.
I teach 2 more classes from 1:35 to 3:30. I am usually at school
until 6:00 pm setting up
experiments and/or demos,
cleaning up experiments
and/or demos, making cop-
ies, tutoring, planning, grad-
ing, or doing paperwork.
tools can’t you live
Microsoft Office, SigmaPlot,
How many hours
do you work in a
I put in around 80 hours a
week. I’m usually at school
10–11 hours a day, and then
I go home and grade papers
or work on lesson plans for
about 3–4 hours each night
and 10–15 hours on the
weekends. The environment
is insanely busy!
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