Ending with a bang!

Physics teacher Todd Ascherl to retire after 12 years.


file photo

Jerome Seck (NPHS ’16) and Todd Ascherl conduct an experiment for elementary students at the Chemistry Road Show.

Alex Cook, Staff Writer

Science teacher Todd Ascherl started teaching in North Platte 12 years ago. Since then, he has been “blowing up”  North Platte High, teaching many students through his exploding experiments. At the end of this school year, Ascherl plans to retire.

The trebuchet Aschrel’s physics class built over the past semester. Most years the students would launch pumpkins with community watching, but COVID-19 has put a stop to it this year. (Alex Cook)

Ascherl didn’t always want to teach. His original plan was to become a mechanic. “I didn’t even want to go to college, my mom made me.” he said. However, his mother insisted that he would get at least one year of schooling. He listened to her and his life has not been the same since.

He started his career in public schools as a gym coach in a small school in Rolfe, Iowa. After two years of working there, his job took an abrupt turn. “In 1986, Iowa public schools started to merge, and since I was new and expendable, they put me out the door,” he said.  Since gym teachers were common, the only school that would hire him was Pope John XXIII Central Catholic High School in Elgin, Neb.

At John XXIII, he was required to teach biology and anatomy as well as PE. A short time before the school year started, the school administration told him he also needed to teach freshman physical science along with physics and chemistry. “I had never even taken a physics class in high school let alone college,” Ascherl said. However his wife was a chemist by trade, so she would teach him the material then he would teach it to his students. Since then he has gotten certified to teach chemistry, biology, and physics. 

Todd Ascherl teaching elementary school students during his chemistry roadshow. (Photo Courtesy Todd Ascherl)

Ascherl frequently teaches through classroom activities like labs and other projects. His classes also included activities that the class collectively did together that community members could watch before covid restrictions were put in place. Some of these activities included the chemistry road show, where students would go to local elementary schools and show flashy experiments to the students to get them excited about science. In his physics class, students helped build a large medieval siege weapon called a trebuchet. “I really enjoy working on the trebuchet,” said senior Tanner Brittenham.  

Ascherl is retiring from North Platte High after the end of this school year. Senior Isabella Whitney, who has taken Aschrel’s physics class, encourages other students to transfer into his class when they can. She said, ”You need to figure out how to take his class in the second semester.”

Accounting and business teacher Gwen Packard said, “I think that the students in this school are really going to miss him.”