Penguin Hall Faculty Spotlight: Science Teacher Mr. Rivers

Mr. Rivers (pictured center) with his siblings

Before he became a science teacher at The Academy at Penguin Hall, Mr. Rivers worked as an EMT in Beverly, a role that has helped shape how he approaches life and work. “I learned how to think quickly in emergency situations and prioritize and triage things quickly,” he said. But one of the most valuable skills that he picked up was learning how to talk to strangers and people from different walks of life.

Read on to learn more about Mr. Rivers!

How did you become a teacher?

When Mr. Rivers graduated from Gordon College, he worked with the school’s La Vida Center for Outdoor Education and Leadership, simultaneously dedicating hours to gardening and serving as an EMT on the weekends. Through La Vida, he realized he really liked teaching. “I studied kinesiology in college, and I liked chemistry as a kid and studied anatomy, and so I looked around for different teaching positions…  and I saw Penguin Hall was hiring for a science teacher.” The 2020-21 academic year will be Mr. Rivers’ third year at APH.

Teaching at an all-girls school seems to be a natural fit for Mr. Rivers, who spent plenty of time with women at Gordon College, which currently has a female-to-male ratio of 63:37. “I taught Discovery classes that were almost entirely women, and I had a female TA,” he says. Ben is also very close to his younger sister, who will be 19 in August. 

Do you have a favorite chemistry experiment from home?

During distance learning this past spring, Mr. Rivers chemistry students participated in a number of at-home experiments. One of his favorites is making a wet cell battery out of vinegar, cardboard, and pennies:

Do you have a favorite summer activity?

Mr. Rivers is an avid outdoors person, and he taught an Outdoor Survival Skills Workshop earlier in July through the APH Summer Program. This summer, you might catch Mr. Rivers kayaking around the Beverly Beaches and Salem Willows. “I’d like to go up the North Shore coast this summer, but I haven’t done much sea kayaking, so I need to practice,” he said.

How did your work as an EMT impact the way you view or live your life?

A self-described introvert, Mr. Rivers credits being an EMT to helping him grow his people skills and learning how to talk to strangers. As he explained, “When you’re in a truck with someone for 45 minutes, you have to start a conversation.” As an EMT in Beverly, Mr. Rivers was on call from 7 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday. Working with and serving a diverse community also helped broaden his perspectives on the human experience. “Beverly has a huge socioeconomic spectrum; going to see how people live their lives to different degrees was very eye opening,” he shared.