We had the opportunity to catch up with Dr. Don Dosch, soon to be retired Science Faculty member at IMSA.
Q. When does retirement officially begin?
A. Yay! My last day of service is May 31, 2020. I get docked a day because my contract ends June 1st.
Q. Could you tell us a little bit about your current role and background.
A. My current role is still on faculty. I currently have two classes that I’m teaching. A full load is four. I’m still teaching biology classes and still writing curriculum. I’m still trying to be a bulldozer, trying to get things to change. I have time assigned to the leadership team for the SIR program. It takes up the majority of my time, but I work with a great team and it’s actually a labor of joy. It’s an important program and I think students really appreciate that.
I have been an employee of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy since the Fall of 1992. This is my 28th year at IMSA. I came here unemployed, so I’m very thankful for that. Before IMSA, I was teaching in Liberal Arts colleges. It has been a good journey here. I appreciated the sheer joy of making meaning in my life. I’m continually learning. It’s a great job!
Q. How does 28 years at IMSA feel?
A. It feels very fulfilling but I think that it is a long enough time. I’m still young enough to discover other things to build into my life.
Q. Are there any courses you taught that stand out in your mind as you reflect on the 28 years?
A. One of the most exciting teaching roles that I had here was the first decade of my career. I was an Integrated Science teacher. I was responsible for teaching Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth & Space Science. I worked with some of the most intelligent people I’ve ever known in the development of that curriculum. I learned an awful lot. I credit that experience with helping me build a better understanding of the interconnectedness of all science. During the same time, I was responsible for teaching a class called Biotechnology. Fantastic! It was a deep immersion in Molecular Biology. It met four days a week for a double period. In order for a student to get into that class, they had to give up some things. I worked with very select populations of students. We read good literature. We did some good science in the lab and I think everybody came to a better understanding of what science is and why, as a society, we do it. That was an excellent class.
Q. What is your favorite IMSA memory?
A. That’s a tough one. I think the joy of my job is class independent. I enjoy working with people that come to this place. I think my best teaching actually took place in the office, having just basic conversations with students about life. “Which college should I go to? Why should I do that?” A lot of heartbreak. “My roommate hates me.” Those kinds of conversations. I think that’s why I stayed here so long. Helping young people grow into caring, compassionate intellectual adults. That’s what I do. I don’t know if that’s a memory, but that’s why I love my job.
Q. What kept you motivated?
A. A long time ago the faculty took the Meyers-Briggs test and I scored INFP. On the list of professions that were INFP-like, one of them was a Pastor. Ha ha, I still remember this. It was like 1993. I suppose there’s something about that which is caring. There are important things in life to pay attention to and I’m not a Pastor. I’m not religious but if we are going to make it as a society, we’re going to make it together and this is the role I play. You’re making me not want to retire!
Q. What are your plans for retirement?
A. I don’t know what that is and to be honest, I really haven’t given it a lot of thought. I don’t know but I always thought it was really cool to end a career while you’re still doing a good job. It’s like those old rockers. They just need to retire. They don’t need to be on stage when they’re like 70. Get your Social Security benefits and move on. I guess I really don’t know what to do and that’s okay. Everyday can be Saturday for a while and I’m okay with that although I will probably get bored pretty quickly. I know things I won’t do. I won’t put on a blue vest and work at Wal-mart. That I won’t do. We’ll see what happens.
Q. What advice would you have to alumni?
A. Wow. That’s a tough one. I think that if there is a lesson that I’ve learned for myself, it is to be who I am. I don’t think that I’m a typical teacher. I don’t practice this role as you would expect a typical teacher to do, like a public school teacher. I have been given a great opportunity to express myself outside of the classroom because our students are residential. I think if there’s nothing else that I do, I teach my students who I am. My passions, my interests, my knowledge, the reasons that I do things. I think that’s what I do, so if I were to give advice to somebody, I would say roles are defined by people. I think I would say to alumni “to find out who you are and to hold on to that very tightly despite the expectations of others and the workplace. We don’t need a bunch of cubicle fillers. We need people to be creative, especially nowadays, to be creative and forward thinking in our society. Also, get serious about Global Climate Change. Period!”