Greetings! My name is Dr. John Kiser, and I’m a proud Burke County native and alumnus of WPCC. After graduation from WPCC, I was privileged to be able to attend Furman University to obtain my BS and MS degrees in chemistry. I worked in research labs and as a teaching assistant for chemistry for several years at Furman. My research training and MS coursework focused on instrumental analysis, thermodynamics, quantum chemistry, biochemistry, and environmental chemistry. Some of my research work at Furman has been published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C and in Biochemistry. I have also completed an EdD in Curriculum and Instruction through the University of South Carolina. My dissertation was written on how I developed, implemented, and analyzed inquiry-based learning activities in online chemistry courses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After moving back to Western North Carolina in 2005 for family reasons, my first job was teaching part time in the community college system. I have been teaching part time or full time since then at a variety of community colleges. I have been back home at WPCC since 2008 and been serving as a coordinator of chemistry / physical science courses since 2009. While at WPCC, I have served on committees related to service learning, academic rigor, general education outcomes, and facilities, grounds, and safety.
Rather than a rigorous, formal definition of my teaching and educational philosophies; my philosophies are best seen operationally or “in practice.” Six of my former college chemistry professors have won a teaching award at their respective institutions and four have been recognized as exceptional advisors. I continually draw from their expertise and example in my teaching inside the classroom and my interactions with students outside the classroom. Since WPCC is an open-door institution, I have many different types of students in my classes. One of my aims as an educator is to give students who may not have a strong background in chemistry a good foundation and support system while providing students with a stronger chemistry background challenge and fresh perspective on the material.
Outside of WPCC, I am heavily involved with the North Carolina Science Olympiad (NCSO), part of a national organization that sponsors STEM tournaments for elementary, middle, and high school teams. I have been a volunteer at various regional tournaments since 2000. Since 2005, I have been a director of the Hickory Regional Tournament, which has served up to 24 middle and 24 high school teams (totaling up to 800 students) in the Hickory Metro area. I have been a state level supervisor of chemistry related events since 2007. I am also a frequent presenter at NCSO’s annual Coaches Clinic on chemistry related topics and events. I have been an unofficial mentor to other event supervisors and regional directors. At the 2018 NCSO state level tournament, I was honored with their Distinguished Service Award for my long-time commitment and work with NCSO and science education statewide.
On a personal note, my wife and I have two children whom we home school. It is amazing to see my kids grow and develop and to bring insights from the home teaching to the college teaching (and vice versa!). We enjoy family game nights, the occasional Hickory Crawdads game, rummaging local thrift stores, various church related activities, and exploring the many local science museums and outdoor activities in Western NC.
A guiding principle for me has been a quote from Dr. Lon Knight, my department chair while at Furman: “Put your effort in and keep your enthusiasm up and you will accomplish your goals!”
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