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The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian


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Retiring teachers reflect on time at ETHS: Joel Weiner

Drew Watson

It is the year 2000. A young-ish Joel Weiner with a full head of hair and 20/20 vision arrives at ETHS to teach chemistry. 

Flash forward 24 years.

It is the year 2024. An older, bald, bespectacled Joel Weiner retires after a long and impactful career in the chemistry department.

During his time at ETHS, Weiner brought in numerous highly-respected scientific speakers, took his classes on field trips to do habitat restoration in local forest preserves, helped popularize the Chem/Phys program and worked incredibly hard to devise engaging and informative lessons for his students.

His motto for himself was, “Give my students the tools to meet the challenge that I’m giving them.”

Weiner’s dedication to providing chemistry students with a creative, hands-on and challenging education did not go unappreciated by the student population. For many years, admitted Weiner, he was viewed as a “legendary teacher.”

“The majority of students knew that there was this teacher named Dr. Weiner, who was some great teacher,” he recalled.

He became a part of the ETHS culture and even had a role in a YAMO sketch – a privilege that few, if any, ETHS teachers have ever had.

Many students at ETHS – and across the country – who did not have Weiner as their chemistry teacher still learned from him through his popular YouTube channel, Crash Chemistry Academy

Since 2011, he has been creating videos that explain chemistry concepts in a straightforward and engaging way. Students often use these videos to supplement their learning in class or review concepts they don’t understand.

His impact on chemistry students nationally can be seen in the comments under his videos. 

Comments for his video “Orbitals, the Basics” read, “This is honestly one of the best explanations I’ve ever seen for chemistry;” “THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH for making this tutorial” and “Thank you very much for giving me faith in the fact that teaching can be good.”

Whether it’s in-person or through his YouTube channel, helping students has brought Weiner joy and fulfillment.

“What makes me happy is coming to my room and being with my students,” he shared.

Weiner has built strong relationships with his fellow teachers as well and will miss the camaraderie they share.

“I’ve made some very close friends here,” he said. “And I’ll keep in touch with them after I retire.”

Once he retires, Weiner may be even busier than he has been as an ETHS teacher. He plans to continue making YouTube videos, read more books about science (his favorite topic), practice the trombone, volunteer for more habitat restoration and go on road trips. 

In 2000, Weiner laid out his goal for his time at ETHS: “I wanted to be the best teacher I could be.” 

Over 24 years of hard work and creativity – according to hundreds of YouTube commenters and ETHS students – he certainly has.

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About the Contributor
Sam Froum
Sam Froum, A&E Editor
Hi, I’m Sam Froum (he/him), and I’m the Editor of A&E and Photo & Art. This is my third year on staff. Previously I was the assistant editor of A&E and a staff writer. I write for the Evanstonian because it allows me to become a better writer and provides opportunities for collaboration with other students. I also run cross country and track and participate in Wildkit Buddies. Outside of school, I like to draw, run and watch TV.
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