For the 2023-24 school year, Concord Academy welcomes Neel Shah to the Science Department as a biology and chemistry teacher. Shah joins the faculty as part of the Wilcox Fellows Program, a half-time teaching fellowship that empowers young college graduates to pursue a career in teaching. Shah, hailing from Newtown, Pennsylvania, is spending his first semester sitting in on science courses Biology and Chemistry of Cooking; he is also attending Spanish 3 classes and an upper-level English elective to get a better feel for teaching at CA. After this intermediary period of adjustment, Shah will teach science courses on his own in the spring semester.

Though Shah has never taught before, he is no stranger to the subjects in which he is involved. He graduated from Haverford College with a bachelor’s degree in Biology, holds numerous medical certifications, and conducted cancer research at the National Health Institute for two years. Though his credentials point toward a career in medicine, he altered his career path before going to medical school. He explained, “I was working towards entering medical school for years and years.” For Shah, however, the Covid-19 lockdown gave him the space to change his mind. “The pandemic sucked, but there was some time for me to reflect and realize that medical school was not for me.”

Eventually, Shah fell back on his end goal, which had always been teaching: “I always thought that at the end of being a doctor, I was going to teach medical students. I decided to cut out that middle part and skip right to the teaching part,” he said. This epiphany brought Shah to apply for the Wilcox Fellows Program.

Still, Shah ponders whether teaching is his definitive destination. He plans to use his time at CA to guide the decisions he makes on his future career. He explains, “This is a year for me to figure out if teaching is something I want to do. No matter what, I hope to have fun with the classes I’m in charge of next semester.”

Being new to teaching apart from a short time as a teaching assistant, Shah is in a process of preparation. He admitted he feels a bit nervous to step into the classroom, sharing,“I felt like I was the most nervous one there of all these freshmen in their first high school class.” When asked about his approach, he advised taking it slow and using the first semester to his advantage.

Overall, Shah is excited to see where his time at CA takes him—whether it confirms that teaching is his path, or opens up a new, different door. Let’s welcome Neel Shah to the community for the 2023-24 school year!