Getting to Know: Mr. Ahart

Grace Gooneratne, Copy Editor

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John Ahart has spent the last twenty plus years as one of Hart’s most beloved science teachers.

A combination of motivation and hard work led Mr. Ahart to his job at Hart High. He grew up in the farming community of Alcester, South Dakota. One of his most interesting summer jobs was in college, as he measured gravity throughout South Dakota as a way to pay for college while attending the University of South Dakota. At the University of South Dakota, he completed a five year major in both geoscience and education. It was during his sophomore year that he made his decision to teach high school. Mr. Ahart was given an assignment to observe classes at an elementary school, middle school and high school, at which point he realized that the types of students that he would be the best fit for were in high school.

Mr. Ahart’s first teaching job was in Wayne, Nebraska, teaching seventh and eighth grade science while a teacher was recovering from cancer treatments. The teacher he filled in for recovered, so he looked to move on. That following summer, Arizona State University held a career fair for educators. Mr. Ahart planned to attend Arizona State University for graduate school and teach in the area. When he arrived at the fair, it had started an hour early and all of the interview slots for Arizona were filled, so he looked for other interviews. There were still two districts with open slots: William S. Hart and Alhambra. Mr. Strauss, the Hart Principal at the time, interviewed Mr. Ahart first and asked him to come back before he took any other offers. That is how he made his way to California and to Hart High School.

That was in 1989, and for 29 years since then Mr. Ahart has continued to teach and mentor Hart students. He has taught Earth Science, Biology, Academic Seminar, Honors Earth Science, Chemistry and AP Environmental Science. Mr. Ahart has also coached tennis, soccer, track and football. In 2006, Mr. Ahart began teaching the freshman geared AP Environmental Science course. Teaching the AP class was a decision led mainly by himself and the principal at the time, Mr. Fuller.

“We wanted to have an AP level class that was doable for freshman. It’s a class that’s easily taught to ninth grade students that have a desire to learn and the drive to push themselves,” Mr. Ahart said.

Every morning Ahart gets up at 5 a.m. and arrives at school at 6:15 a.m. to do lesson preparation. Mr. Ahart then teaches four periods of AP Environmental Science to around 130 students, mainly freshmen, and this year that includes his son, JJ Ahart. Alongside his teaching responsibilities, Mr. Ahart is also the chief negotiator for the Hart District Teachers Association and attends all school board meetings, which happen twice a month on Wednesday nights.

“It’s interesting to watch the way students can be so similar yet so different at the same time. They all respond to the same set of information in different ways. I get to watch students grow and change throughout the year,” Mr. Ahart said.

Mr. Ahart has had no regrets since choosing to pursue teaching high school.
“I think when you have an opportunity to influence the minds of young and interested people there is no greater joy. I teach mostly freshman so I end up being one of the first people to actually challenge students, and push them to achieve their goals,” Mr. Ahart said.

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Getting to Know: Mr. Ahart