Swift Moore Teaching Award

Erick Hueck believes that part of his job is getting to know his chemistry students’ interests, struggles, families and stories. Inside his classroom at Miami Senior High School, students not only learn to love chemistry, but learn to appreciate learning, too. According to his former student Catherine Amaya, misbehavior often received more attention than academic achievements among the school’s predominantly low-income, Hispanic population, but Hueck’s dedication to his students and passion for chemistry proved to be a “wondrous” exception to the norm. For Amaya, Hueck’s was “the most important classroom” in which she got to sit. She recalled how he gained students’ attention through energetic presentations— “He would literally be jumping up and down with excitement about the material!”—and he sustained their interest by discovering what topics intrigued them and then illustrating how those interests related to chemistry. Hueck believes his students all have the capacity to solve the most difficult problems. Instead of lessening his requirements, he continues to challenge them—even when it comes to college plans. “We were not allowed to settle for the expected applications to state colleges. Hueck encouraged us, talked with our families, wrote recommendations for us,” Amaya noted. “I honestly do not think I would have made it to Amherst without Hueck.”