Public school teacher brings chemistry into his students' kitchens

Jonte Lee, a teacher at Calvin Coolidge High School in Washington, DC, has been livestreaming his lessons on Instagram and Facebook.

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(CNN)After schools moved online a year ago because of the pandemic, one public school science teacher was determined to make his chemistry labs interactive and accessible.

Jonte Lee, a teacher at Calvin Coolidge High School in Washington, DC, figured the way to do so was to connect to the students on social platforms.
As a result, Lee has been livestreaming his lessons on Instagram and Facebook, inspiring students far beyond his school to follow along at home.
      Lee told CNN that his principal, Semanthe Bright, suggested he livestream a lab last April.
        "Our thought behind it was students know how to use Instagram, they know how to use Facebook," Lee said, adding that he "wanted to meet the students where they were."
          Realizing that most his more than 30 students would not have access to lab equipment when they returned to online school in the fall, Lee largely uses items that can be found in most kitchens. "And if there's something a student doesn't have, I don't mind shipping it to the student," he said.
          Since beginning his lessons, Lee has heard from viewers across the country about how his classes have improved their experience of attending online school.
          One woman reached out, telling Lee she had been worried about supervising her grandchildren's classes at home. "She was like, 'I know nothing about science, what's going to happen?' and then she came across my page," said Lee. "It's stories like that that really touch my heart."
          Jonte Lee has become known as the Kitchen Chemist.
          The Kitchen Chemist, as Lee came to be known, also has bought and delivered backpacks, school supplies, and even Amazon Fire tablets to each of his students. Lee poured his summer school teaching salary into the endeavor, calling it an "incredible experience."
          "I knew I had to meet them one time just to form that teacher-student relationship," he said.
          Lee's favorite lesson described how to make ice cream three different ways, because of how engaged his students were even after the livestream ended. "The next day, it was like, 'Y'all, he made ice cream!' So it provided a great academic discussion on how I did it."
            Lee plans to continue posting videos even after students go back to school in person.
            "I am a public school teacher... I want to give back to all the taxpayers that fund my salary," said Lee. "This allowed me to be a community teacher, and not a teacher that is bound by the four walls in my classroom."