Faculty Profile: David Tollefsen - Wheaton Academy

November 5, 2019

Faculty Profile: David Tollefsen

What motivated you to become a teacher?

Throughout and after college, I worked with students at a summer camp in the mountains of Colorado. At the camp, I grew in my desire to serve teens and at night I enjoyed sharing about the stars with the boys in my cabins. I had a degree in science and I missed working on it after graduating, but I didn’t want to work in a lab. Taking a year off after college to reflect on my gifts and God’s leading, I put the two together and ended up pursuing teaching.

What are your favorite moments with students?

In math and science classes, I love it when students who come in with a bias against the subject leave my class with an appreciation for the material. The phrases that impact me most are ones like, “I still don’t LIKE math, but I can see why it’s interesting now,” or “I always was scared of physics because it was so challenging, but actually it can be kind of fun!” Those are the moments I teach for.

What is the most important life lesson you want your students to learn in your class?

It’s ok to struggle with a subject or a problem. It doesn’t mean you are bad at it—even the big names struggled. What counts is that you persevere and learn something new that you may not have understood before.

Why are you passionate about the subjects that you teach?

I love the way physics connects and explains the world around us. It is consistent, and understandable. It’s almost as if it was designed to be figured out. I also love how, when we apply physics to space, we can be inspired by the beauty of creation. It’s magnificent and boundless.

What advice do you have for parents considering Christian education?

I would just share from my own experience. As a student at Wheaton Academy, I was blessed, challenged, and known in the good times and the hard times. My faith was affirmed in ways I couldn’t explain as a high schooler, but looking back I can see how God used this place to shape who I am today. I am so thankful for the sacrifices that my family made to send me here.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Favorite book as an adult?

Anything written by Stephen Lawhead—specifically his Pendragon Cycle and the Raven Trilogy