Faculty Spotlight: Mr. Elder

Adam Laplant

Born in the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. Elder came to the United States to attend Howard University. Mr. Elder is a teacher at Harriton High school who arrived last year to temporarily replace Mrs. Gauvin and teach AP Physics, CP Physics, and Active Physics. Since then, he has stayed on the Harriton staff; however, this year he teaches Algebra and PASS lab.

Q: How long did you live in Trinidad and Tobago? What was the name of the area in which you lived?

A: I was born in San Fernando, which is located in the southwest of Trinidad and Tobago and is the second largest city on the island.

Q: What were the good and the bad aspects of growing up there?

A: Growing up on an island was a very good experience. Because it was small, the education system was made up of very good, small schools. The teacher to student ratio was very beneficial. Also, there are very nice beaches and beauty surrounds you everywhere.

There weren’t many bad things about growing up on the island.  If I could think of anything, it would be that children were screened and tracked at a very young age. The children would be placed on a track that was determined to be best suited for them. The bad side of this was that some children who were “late bloomers” had to remain on the same tracks that they were initially placed on when they were young.

Q: What do you like or dislike about teaching at Harriton?

A: I don’t see how I could dislike anything. At Harriton there are only positives! At Harriton you have your own room, and you get to teach hardworking kids who are focused on a higher education.

There is really no downside, although I guess I could have a better view.

Q: Where did you teach before you worked here? What did you teach there?

A: I used to teach out in Bucks County. I taught physics there for 4 years.

Q: What is your favorite subject to teach?

A: I really enjoy teaching physics; however, I really like teaching math as well.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do outside of teaching?

A: I really like to travel when I can. I go back to Trinidad and Tobago ever year.  Also, I’ve visited Brazil, San Diego, Las Vegas, Florida, and Indiana. I’ve mostly been around the U.S.

Q: What is your favorite book?

A: I don’t read much. I’d rather watch the Discovery and History channels.

Q: What is your favorite movie?

A: I’d have to say that it’s Spike Lee’s Inside man. I generally like movies where you can’t predict what happens. I seldom go to the cinema.

Q: What is your favorite food?

A: I prefer island food. My favorites are macaroni pie and stew chicken, which is a delicacy in Trinidad. The chickens back home had a very different flavor because, unlike here, they were allowed to roam free and eat differently than in the U.S.

Q: Who is an inspiration for you?

A: My parents are my biggest inspiration because they worked hard to assure that all their children were well educated. They made sacrifices to send their children to good schools. They had to work very hard to send their kids to schools in foreign countries. My parents inspired me to do the same with my children. I have a daughter who is a senior at Hampton University, a son who is a freshman at Howard University, and a son who is a sophomore in high school.

Q: In what ways is teaching a rewarding experience for you?

A: It feels great imparting knowledge, as you get to see the excitement of kids when they understand something. They are appreciative and will never forget you. Seeing them improve, develop, and want to learn more is always fulfilling.

Mr. Elder is a very personable teacher who is committed to helping his students succeed. Getting to know him has been a very pleasurable experience, as he has an extensive knowledge base and a profound love of teaching.