Yoder ‘kills it’ in the classroom


Kate Kealey

Science teacher Brandon Yoder’s goals for his classes vary throughout the year, but he is always just as involved in the class as his students are. “I believe that every student is capable of doing well in my classes,” Yoder said. “It is my job to guide them where they need to go, to a certain extent they need to do things on their own, but I want them to pave that path to help get them there.”

Kate Kealey, Editor in Chief

Entering room 119 one will encounter the aroma of fresh air coming from the courtyard windows, and popcorn. Depending on the day, you will find a deceased Anna Garcia mannequin laying on the floor, or students measuring blood splatters. Science teacher Brandon Yoder has been teaching Principles of Biomedical Science (PBS) for the last three years.

The class started with 18 students his first year, now there are 120 students signed up for PBS. The class is based around the death of Anna Garcia. Throughout this semester long class, students evaluate her medical conditions that lead to her death.

Yoder was not always a biology teacher, he didn’t even start in the education field. He started at Genesis as a certified nursing assistant (CNA), but it was not a job he enjoyed. After having some experience in the healthcare field, he realized he liked healthcare but enjoyed working with the high school age group as well.

“I thought teaching was a good combination of the two,” Yoder said. “I didn’t do well in high school, and the first time I went to college I was okay, but when I went back all the sudden everything was clicking. It all made sense, and I really liked it.”

Yoder started as a student teacher for science teacher Renne Lietz, where he had first-hand experiences of what being an educator would be like.

“It was interesting because in college they teach you ‘this is how things should go’, but when you get into the teaching field it is not like that at all,” Yoder said. “It was one of those challenges of what’s it like being in an actual classroom and working with actual students. You had some experience in college but not a ton, so I had to adjust to that.”

Lietz followed a laissez-faire teaching system while training Yoder, making sure to allow him the opportunity to be more than a student teacher.

“There would be times she would be like ‘you got this?’ and then go sit in the next room, so that she was nearby if I needed her, which made the class feel like my own,” Yoder said.

Lietz believed that Yoder thrived in this type of teaching environment, and still does.

“I had never even met Yoder. The only [information] I knew about him was what I had read on his paper. We got along right off the bat, and he is probably just as quirky as I am,” Lietz said. “He likes to jump in and get stuff done, and he was that way while student teaching too. He wasn’t the type to sit in the back and watch, he just wanted to get in there and do it.”

After student teaching at West, Yoder decided this was where he wanted to stay. He started off teaching Earth and Space Science, but when Lietz decided she wanted to go back to teaching regular biology as opposed to AP biology, she recommended Yoder for the job.

“I would have been going into my third year teaching, and the principal at the time was on the fence about it,” Yoder said. “I was very insistent about it. I went to his office on a weekly basis asking about AP, and that is how I got into biology.”  

Yoder has always known how to interact with students through his style of teaching, it was this that  junior Tony Wickman has always enjoyed about him.

“He is helpful, and always does my Falcon Flex for me. Yoder is also just a really good guy,” Wickham said.

Yoder has always tried to show respect towards his students, and remains an open book for anyone but he expects the same in return.

“What I think of an ideal teacher is someone who can make a really complex topic manageable to anyone. If you can make something that is really complex accessible to anyone, then that is, I view, a good teacher,” Yoder said. “By interacting with my students and understanding what they have going on in their lives helps me create analogies of what we are learning in class and how that can be applicable to their lives. That way they understand it in a more meaningful and long lasting kind of way.”