A concoction of careers

Meet Robert Moore, one of LZ’s most experienced teachers.

Robert+Moore%2C+science+teacher%2C+is+one+of+LZHS%27s+most+experienced+teachers%2C+with+25+years+at+LZHS.

Photo by and used with permission of Janine Moore

Robert Moore, science teacher, is one of LZHS’s most experienced teachers, with 25 years at LZHS.

What does a chemical concoction of a love for science bonded with a love of bow ties, double-bonded with a love of teaching create? Robert Moore, chemistry teacher! A former dental technician and organic vegetable farmer, Moore has spent the last 25 years teaching astronomy, physical science, and every level of chemistry at the high school.

Moore majored in General Science in college, hoping to go into dentistry, because he liked “working with [his] hands and doing […] intricate work.” But “it wasn’t quite right for me,” Moore said. He ended up in dental technology, making teeth out of porcelain and gold, which he describes as “a refined, technical, anatomical type of jewelry [making]” that is both “artistic” and “technical.”

After being a dental technician for a number of years, Moore met his future wife, and they decided to “consider something different.” He was put in touch with a man who was looking for someone to run his farm in Spring Grove. Thus, 30 years ago, Moore and his wife were put in charge of an organic vegetable farm.

“I ran the physical part of the farm, and she ran the sales-end of it. We sold organic produce of all varieties […] to restaurants in the city,” Moore said.

The farm was more of a novelty back then, as some of the vegetables they grew, like arugula, were “unheard of at the time. Nobody in the general public knew that except the chefs, especially […] the European chefs,” Moore said. The organic aspect was uncommon as well, according to Moore, because no one else in the Chicago area was growing organic produce at the time.

“To give you an idea of the scale, we had quite a number of acres, and one season we had 50,000 tomato plants [and] thousands of pepper plants,” Moore said.

Although working on the farm was “a blast,” Moore and his wife quit the job after three years, when his wife became pregnant. He worked at a dental lab for the next two years, while at the same time going to Roosevelt University to get a teaching certificate. 

“Here’s the thing that was good about farming. You work intensely for about eight, nine months, […] and then you have a few months off,” Moore said. He realized that with teaching, “you get the months off is the best time of the year and that’s the summer! In farming, the best time you get off is the wintertime.”

But teaching wasn’t appealing to Moore just because of the vacation time. He felt his skills from dental technology and farming could transition into teaching.

“When I worked in the dental business, even when I worked in farming, […] I always kind of considered myself a teacher,” Moore said. “You have to present yourself and present your product to the public, or to your customers, [dentists and chefs], to tell them the benefits of what you have, what you’re trying to sell.”

After student teaching at Cary Grove High School, Moore found his position at Lake Zurich High School.

“I really enjoy working with students,” Moore said. His favorite thing about teaching at Lake Zurich is “introducing chemistry to students” as well as the helpfulness, friendliness, and  “camaraderie among the staff.”

Since he first started teaching, Moore says his level of comfort with the content and in the classroom has grown. As he gains experience, he says he becomes looser and more flexible. 

“In the first few years – I’ve seen other teachers do it and maybe I’ve done it too – I was trying to be pretty tough […] But I realized [not all students] get everything that we do in a particular class the same way. So I try to be more flexible as much as I can, and approach [teaching the content] in a number of different ways. After having heard similar questions for years, […] when I hear a question I know right away what an answer is,” Moore said.

Moore appreciated the mentorship of the more seasoned teachers when he first started. 25 years later, he’s now taken on that role as one of Lake Zurich High School’s most experienced teachers.

“I had good mentors. Lake Zurich has great mentors, helping the younger teachers, and I try to carry that on as best I can,” Moore said.

Moore has one piece of advice for younger teachers: “develop your own voice […] speak your own language, […] and don’t try to be someone else.”