1993 Stephen Marsden, Harvard-Westlake High School

Stephen Marsden, Harvard-Westlake High School
1993 Outstanding High School Teacher of the Year

Stephen R. Marsden of Harvard-Westlake Upper School, In North Hollywood, was awarded the 1992 American Chemical Society Southern California Section Regional Award in High School Chemistry Teaching and honored as the Section’s High School Teacher of the Year in 1993.

Mr. Marsden has been referred to as a “teacher’s teacher” and is universally regarded as an outstanding teacher and the “ultimate authority on chemistry” from both his colleagues and students. He is known not only for his contributions in teaching basic chemistry and honors chemistry, but also for his non-stop contribution to the advanced placement chemistry (also referred to as AP Chemistry).

AP Chemistry at Harvard-Westlake is a second year course for students who have completed Honors Chemistry. Mr. Marsden recently wrote an article for the Journal of Chemical Education in which he described this course. His philosophy for the AP Chemistry course is best described in his own words. “Why read about chemistry or listen to someone else talk about chemistry when you can do chemistry? Students equipped with the fundamentals and given generous encouragement can, in my experience, teach themselves and each other far more efficiently than I in many areas. So why not let them and give them the great gift of seeing the textbook come alive in the lab.”

Through the years, Mr. Marsden has assembled (and maintained) an extensive computer network for the use of all the chemistry students. This network allows the students access to about twenty different programs including many chemistry tutorial programs, spreadsheet and graphing programs. AP Chemistry students also make use of both a mass spectroscopy simulator and a NMR spectroscopy simulator. Additionally, an Apple computer network system is available in the laboratory complete with interface hardware through which every student working in the lab can access a digital thermometer, voltmeter, pH meter and colorimeter.

All of the science faculty at Harvard-Westlake respect Mr. Marsden for his never ending support, intelligence, creativity and dedication. Both by example and by inspiration, he has been said to be the perfect model for the students.

Mr. Marsden received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from San Diego State University in 1975. He began his teaching career at Glendora High School in 1976, and moved on to Harvard-Westlake (formerly Harvard School) in 1983. In 1991, Mr. Marsden was honored as a California State Finalist for a Presidential Award for Teaching Excellence in Science and Mathematics.