Thornton Academy News

  • Academics
  • Upper School
Featured Faculty: Teri Arenstam, Science
teri arenstam smiles with a student at a volunteer opporutunity

Mrs. Arenstam joined the Thornton Academy faculty in the fall of 2002 and teaches Honors Chemistry and Honors Forensic Chemistry. She grew up in Saco and is a graduate of Thornton Academy. It was here at TA that her science teachers instilled in her a love and appreciation of science which she in turn hopes to pass on to her own students.

Mrs. Arenstam earned a B. S. in biology from Bates College. While at Bates, she was awarded a grant from the American Heart Association and spent the summer of her junior year doing research on the effects of serotonin on the 5-HT neurotransmitter in mice. After working in banking and business for 15 years, Mrs. Arenstam enrolled in the Continuing Education program at the University of New England completing the required coursework in secondary science education. She earned her Master of Education in Instruction and Curriculum at the University of New England. In 2011 she was accepted to the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute Summer Workshop at Bowdoin College.

Mrs. Arenstam is a co-advisor of Thornton Academy’s Interact Club (a Rotary sponsored community service group). A firm believer in the Rotary motto “Service Above Self, “ she works to provide students with ample opportunities to experience the personal satisfaction that comes from getting involved and making a difference in their community.

Mrs. Arenstam lives in Saco with her husband David. They have three grown children, Emma, Kate and Jacob and two grandbabies, Lucas and Ellie. They also have a Chinese “son,” Patrick, who is a permanent part of their extended family since living with them during the 2010-2011 school year as part of Thornton’s international homestay program. There is nothing they enjoy more than big family dinners with family and friends.


What made you decide to teach?
Teaching is a second career for me; I didn’t start until I was in my 40’s. I was looking for a more meaningful career;  I love science and I love kids so teaching seemed like a perfect fit. Turns out it was the best career decision I ever made. 

What is the best thing about teaching at Thornton Academy? 
The kids are the absolute best thing about teaching, but my colleagues are a close second. I love interacting with my students. They are so bright, funny, and inquisitive. It is so gratifying when I am able to pass my love of science on to them and have fun while doing it.  

What is your favorite teaching memory?
I have so many I could write a book. These are important years for our students and not just education-wise. I have shared funny, gut-wrenching, heart-warming, and poignant times with my students and I cherish them all.

Could you describe your teaching philosophy?  
I believe that everyone has the potential to learn.  It is just a matter of finding the right way to deliver the information so that the student can make it their own. 

What do you hope your students get out of your classes? 
I really want them to come away with an appreciation for how absolutely amazing chemistry is. The way all of the pieces fit together is awe-inspiring.  Everything on Earth, including us, is made up of atoms that have been around for billions of years.  We are all truly made of star dust!
My hope is that I give them a solid foundation and pique their interest so that they can go on in science with confidence in their own ability. 

What do you hope for the future of TA? 
My grandmother was a TA grad and here I am more than 75 years after her graduation teaching at a school that she loved almost as much as I do. Thornton Academy is more than the four years of education students get while they are here.  Upon graduation, they become members of the TA family.  Our alumni have life-long and deep connections to TA because of the connections they made while they were here.  I hope we never lose that. 

Favorite food, book, movie, song?
Favorite food: Dessert (Any kind)!
Book: The Stand by Stephen King (bet you didn’t see that one coming did you?!)
Song: The Elements by Tom Lehrer (not really – but it is right up there!)
Movie: The Princess Bride