Love of science turns into teaching career
Wednesday, February 12, 2020 | 10:59 AM
by Ashley Llaneza, Shaler Area HS
Shaler Area AP Biology teacher Mrs. Emily Mohr is a favorite among students and staff. Not only does Mohr take pride in her work, but she also values being a mother and putting energy into her favorite hobbies.
Born in a naval hospital in New London, Connecticut, Mohr moved around frequently as a child. She lived in many states, including Maryland and Virginia, due to the fact that her father was in the Navy. At age 4, Mohr and her family moved to Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
“My parents actually met in Annapolis when my dad was at the Naval Academy. My mom was a medical technologist, so she basically looked at cells and things under the microscope and helped to diagnose diseases,” Mohr said.
As a child, Mohr loved animals. Surprisingly, she had a particular fascination with cicadas. Based on her infatuation with all types of living creatures, she was set on majoring in veterinary medicine. After discussing her plans with her parents, she decided to major in biology, just in case things didn’t work out.
“I loved anything that was living. We would go fishing, and I would hate to kill the worms because I thought that it had a place in the world, too,” she said.
Mohr studied at Westminster as an undergraduate. Over Christmas break of her freshman year, she participated in an intense internship and decided that veterinary medicine wasn’t for her. Because she loved biology, Mohr then decided to go into medicine to become a doctor. During the summer before her junior year, she got a job at a camp with high schoolers in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. It wasn’t until then that she discovered her true passion, teaching.
“I absolutely fell in love with hanging out with high schoolers. I was so depressed at night while I was studying for my MCATs, and so happy during the day when I was hanging out with younger people,” Mohr said.
After thinking long and hard about her decision and conversing with many people, Mohr decided to give teaching a try. She graduated from Westminster with a degree in biology and went to Slippery Rock to get her certification and a master’s degree.
Mohr has been teaching for 18 years. She first taught at Norwin School District as a long-term substitute for six months. Although she had never heard of Shaler Area before applying for a job, she did not hesitate to accept the offer to teach eighth grade physical science.
For her first five or six years in the district, Mohr taught physical science at what is now Shaler Area Middle School. Eventually, she began teaching Honors Biology at the same building. When the freshmen were moved to the current high school building, Mohr followed them and continued to teach Honors Biology, along with regular Biology. Four years ago, she began teaching AP Biology.
Mohr loves planning lessons, executing lessons, and coming up with creative ways to teach her students. She enjoys teaching AP students because they expect to be challenged and complete more academic, thought-provoking assignments.
Despite the fact that she lives such a busy life, Mohr makes time for the things that are most important to her. It helps her to make a to-do list and live presently rather than thinking ahead.
“I seem to be able to fit everything in if I make a to-do list and be very present about each thing on the list. It helps me to stay focused when I’m living in the moment,” she said.
Mohr has many hobbies that she is passionate about. One of her favorite activities is distance running. Mohr has been running since high school. She has participated in four marathons: Cleveland, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Columbus. Running is one important factor in relieving the stress of her daily life. On stressful days, Mohr even runs at school during her lunch break.
In addition to running, Mohr also enjoys music. She knows how to play a few different instruments, including the piano and the guitar.
“My husband got me a guitar for our tenth anniversary. I’ve been playing every day, nonstop. I rock out in my living room. My husband plays the fiddle, I play the guitar, my daughter sings, and we have a little family band,” she said.
Even though she has accomplished many things throughout her life, Mohr’s biggest accomplishment by far was giving birth to her daughter, Adele. To her pleasure, Adele is interested in all-things science. Mohr and her daughter cook together often and she explains to Adele all of the science behind cooking.
“She has brought a new level of joy into my life,” Mohr said.
Since her husband is also off during the summer because he’s a teacher, Mohr cherishes family time. She spends her time off doing things such as reading, gardening, and biking during the summer months.
Mohr loves her job and has no plans to pursue a different career in the future. According to her, she is teaching the kids she wants to teach, the class she wants to teach, and she’s in the perfect school district.
“I am 100% happy here. If I died tomorrow, I would (die as) the happiest person.”