Yocis Left Research Career to Help Students Not ‘Hate Chemistry’


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Chemistry is a passion for Nonnewaug science teacher Kathleen Yocis.

Melanie Boria, Reporter

WOODBURY — Having taught for 15 years, Kathleen Yocis, a popular teacher among students, has led an interesting life, including traveling the world, and later, kickboxing. She now teaches as a chemistry teacher at Nonnewaug High School.

Chemistry wasn’t her first idea, though.

“I was actually pre-med when I went into college, and I was a biology major,” mentioned Yocis.

After college, the teacher worked all around the world for one of her jobs.

“I was a senior research chemist, I worked in the semiconductor field, basically formulating plating chemicals for circuit boards,” stated Yocis.

In that job, she traveled the world for that job to places such as Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, and England. 

Later, after having children, she decided to switch careers to either nursing or teaching. However, it didn’t take long to come to a decision.

“It always bothered me when people asked me what I did for a living, and I said ‘I’m a chemist,'” she recalled, “and they’d be like, ‘Oh, I hated chemistry in high school,’ so I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll be a teacher and maybe people won’t hate chemistry in high school as much.’” 

She has had many memorable moments in teaching, including one at the beginning of a year when she had quite a complex intercom.

“When I just started, I was in here and I didn’t know the intercom could talk to you in the classroom,” she said. “I had picked up the phone [and] then hung it up. I didn’t need to call the office; I was adjusting the phone. They thought I was calling them, and they didn’t didn’t say anything until two minutes later. Then I was walking around the classroom and they said, ‘Hello?’ and I said, ‘God?’ because I had no idea they could speak to me when I was in the room by myself.”

Through teaching she has made great impacts on many students.

“She shows an interest in her students understanding the material,” stated Cole Wenis, sophomore at Nonnewaug and current student of Yocis.

Christine Gorton, senior at Nonnewaug and former student of Yocis, agreed.

“She’s thorough and explains things,” Gorton said. “She works with students to help them.”

Outside of school, Yocis is very active.

“I take aerobics classes and kickboxing, but before I used to coach and I used to teach CCD,” said Yocis, who also coached soccer for years.

With the incredible love for the chemistry teacher, it can be clear to anyone that Yocis’ contributions have made a great impact on Nonnewaug, and she will continue to positively affect students for years to come.