Bio for Bio Teacher Dr. Delaney

by Mya Britto '23 for Silver Quest

John Delaney is one of the newest members of the Blair magnet community. Delaney teaches Magnet Biology, Cell Physiology, Neuroscience, Immunology and Biology. He also sponsors the Neuroscience club, HOSA, and Blair Math Circle. Delaney’s passion for his work and his hobbies gives his students a unique learning experience that is both engaging and enjoyable.

Delaney grew up in a small town in New Hampshire and also spent a year living in Fairbanks, Alaska. He received his undergraduate degree in biology with a minor in zoology from the University of Maine, then worked at Massachusetts General hospital for several years. Later, Delaney attended graduate school in Connecticut, with a focus on bone biology and genetics. Delaney completed his postdocs in Baltimore and worked at the National Institute of Health (NIH) National Institute of Aging. Eight years later, Delaney finally made a home in Silver Spring.

After completing his postdoc, Delaney decided to switch lanes in his career. He realized that becoming a principal investigator was no longer the route he wanted to take. After a long period of reflection, Delaney settled on teaching. “I had had a lot of people tell me when I was in the research lab [that they] never really understood this concept until [I] explained it to [them],” Delaney said. Delaney’s ability to effectively teach others would prove to be in high demand. “I applied to all of the counties in Maryland, and all of them got back to me within eight hours,” Delaney said. Delaney began his career teaching in Prince George’s County, where he remained for five years before transferring to Montgomery County.

In his free time, Dr. Delaney loves playing hockey, creating art, and gaming. “Art in relation to gaming plays a big role in my life,” Delaney said. Delaney’s love for art and willingness to incorporate it into different aspects of his life is evident in his classroom; much of his classwork involves creating visual art to demonstrate understanding of concepts he covers in his lessons. For example, earlier this year, students were encouraged to compare the structure of the cell to another object, and create art to show the similarities between the two. Student-built miniature models of airports, restaurants and even the Death Star can be observed in his classroom. Delaney also values teaching his students about the real-world applications of the seemingly abstract biology concepts he presents them with. “You can have a whole bunch of classes that are about theory, but if you don't have any application, then it doesn't have anywhere to sit. The information just kind of evaporates rather than finding a home,” Delaney explained.

For Delaney, the intrigue of the magnet comes with its encouragement of motivated students to participate in rigorous courses. Delaney recalls that his high school was not geared towards kids looking to attend college, but rather those planning to join the workforce ‒ very different from the Blair magnet program environment. Delaney expressed that teaching magnet students is exciting because the students are genuinely interested in higher-level studies. “The courses that everybody's interested in taking are really college-level classes, taught at the high school level, which is really kind of interesting, because you can really get into some detail, into some depth,” Delaney said.

Delaney also discussed his appreciation for magnet electives that give students the opportunity to delve deeper into subjects they are truly passionate about in addition to those that are required to earn graduation credits. “When you move up into the higher classes in the magnet, like Cell Phys, like Neuroscience, like Immunology – everybody who's coming in is all jazzed about science. You can really teach at a college-level because everybody wants to be there,” Delaney explained.

The autonomy that the magnet provides teachers with also allows Delaney to explore topics of study with his students that is sure to be engaging for all of them. “I was hired and told that I could teach whatever I wanted to [in the upper-level magnet electives], which was a little amazing,” Delaney said. Though Delaney acknowledges that this level of autonomy requires much more responsibility as an educator, he enjoys the flexibility that it provides him with to ensure his students are having the best learning experience possible.

Dr. Delaney is undoubtedly a stellar addition to the Magnet faculty, and we wish him all the best at Blair!

Read more Magnet stories.