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Alumnus Finds His Passion for Education at USciences

By Katherine Tancredi

Published on March 24, 2020

Jim DonnellyJAMES C. DONNELLY III Bio’92, originally planned to attend medical school when he enrolled at University of the Sciences. He selected the school because of its great medical school acceptance rate. However, his experience as a biology major at USciences set him on track to discover his true calling in the field of education.

Currently, Donnelly teaches advanced placement chemistry, honors chemistry and academic chemistry at Chichester High School in Boothwyn, Pennsylvania. He also serves as the science chairman at Chichester School District and coaches for the Science Olympiad.

LOIS PECK MEd, EdD, professor emeritus of biology, was influential in Donnelly’s decision to pursue a career in education.

“Dr. Lois Peck saw something in me a long time ago and fostered my growth and refined me into the educator that I am today,” says Donnelly. “If it wasn’t for her, I would never have thought of becoming a teacher and would have missed my calling.”

The supportive and close-knit nature of the faculty at USciences was one of the things he enjoyed most about his time on campus. During a period of self-reflection as a student, he found immense support in the USciences community as he was figuring out his career path. 

“I went through a phase of rediscovery and could not decide what I wanted to do in the future,” explains Donnelly. “All I knew was that I loved science. The caring and close-knit faculty, the resources and the size of the school allowed me to experience many different possibilities at the undergraduate level that a larger school would not have allowed me to experience.”

During his tenure in education, Donnelly has had the opportunity to work as both an educator and an administrator. From 2002-2008, Donnelly served as a school administrator in multiple roles, including six years as a high school principal. One of his proudest achievements in his career is his 2008 Pennsylvania High School Principal of the Year award.

Despite his success as an administor, Donnelly decided to return to the classroom as a teacher. He has taken on a leadership role in his field from the start, which he credits to the education he received at USciences, which gave him a strong science foundation. 

“Even when I was the least experienced teacher, more experienced teachers respected my knowledge base and would come to me for help and advice on how to teach content or use me as a resource for content,” says Donnelly.

Over the next five to 10 years, Donnelly plans to continue to teach and coach at Chichester High School until he is ready to retire.

For incoming students, Donnelly has some advice:

“Work hard and smart!” says Donnelly. “Stay ahead of your academic responsibilities and do not fall behind. You always have something to do!”

Categories: News, Misher College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Biological Sciences, Biology, Proven Everywhere, Alumni,