Teacher of the week 13: David Torpe
Teachers are real life superheroes. Every day, CHS teachers touch the lives of thousands of students, and their work extends beyond the boundaries of the classroom. To show appreciation for these teachers, the Crier asked students to identify teachers that have made a real impact in their lives. A new student and teacher will be featured each week.
This week, Jarad Prill, ‘18, nominated physics teacher David Torpe, a Conant alum who coaches the Ultimate Frisbee team and enjoys woodworking.
Prill: Mr. Torpe is one of the few teachers in the school that still has the zeal and excitement that can engage a student. He stands out from any other teacher because of his style of teaching: the use of movement, labs, and general screaming and weird noises. His ability to connect to his students makes him the most genuine teacher I’ve ever had.
Crier: What inspired you to teach physics?
Torpe: Originally, I thought I wanted to be an artist. However, being a successful artist is really hard, and that scared me. I was on the fence about what I wanted to do with my life, and then I took Mr. Kulak’s physics class. Mr. Kulak was so joyful about physics, and I realized I was just as happy to learn it. I came back to Conant years later as a substitute teacher, and now it is my ninth year teaching.
Crier: What is your favorite concept in physics to teach?
Torpe: My favorite topic is fluid dynamics because it has so many cool demos that blow students’ minds. There’s also a lot of student conversation involved because fluids is a topic that they really haven’t thought much about, but they have opinions on. It’s always interesting to bring a topic like that to the classroom, and it’s a fun experience.
Crier: What do you like to do with your family at home?
Torpe: Both my kids are very young, so we have more fun outside. For example, they love to play in the pool. I’ve also always enjoyed woodworking, and when I saw that my son really liked running around in the yard, I built him a mini-parkour set to play on.
Crier: What got you involved in building props for the school musicals and plays?
Torpe: I deeply regret not having participated in the musical or committing to other activities when I studied here, and I know now that my personality fits really well with that of a “techie.” The director a few years ago said he needed help building the background and props, and I wanted to help. The students who I work with and I don’t mind not getting a lot of credit, but it’s really nice to be able to support such a beautiful production. So, I had woodworking skills, and I realized that it’s a great experience working with other students.
Crier: What are some of your favorite TV shows?
Torpe: My wife and I are re-watching “Chuck” for, like, the fifth or sixth time. It’s about a nerdy guy who becomes a super spy. I like “Chuck” as a show because it’s not so serious; it’s just a fun show where they go and do things. It’s nice because a lot of TV right now is very, very serious. It’s nice to take a break, but I also like to watch serious shows. Mr. Kulak was interviewed a few weeks ago, and he said he liked it when the winners always win. I’m the opposite; I think a show is most compelling when it feels like the good guys won’t win because that reels you in. “Luther” and “Sherlock” are two shows like that that come to mind.
Crier: If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be?
Torpe: My wife asked me that once, and I didn’t know how to respond to her because I feel like I am a teacher; that’s my identity. So, it’s sort of like if you weren’t you, who would you be? I don’t feel like I can be anything except a teacher, so if I wasn’t at Conant, I’d be working with students in some capacity, teaching.
To nominate a teacher who has made an impact in your life, click here.