“Salesman of science” brings excitement to class, life


Grifffin DeLadurantaye

David Blake posing with his biology partner, Edna. It is a tradition for Blake and his students to dress Edna up for holidays. Edna is still in her summer attire shown here.

An only child from the Upper Peninsula might not expect to become a teacher to hundreds of students, but that’s exactly what David Blake, Biology and Microbiology teacher, did.
D. Blake grew up in the Upper Peninsula as an only child. From a young age, he knew his calling was rooted in science.
“My first interest in science goes back to when I was a kid, around your guys’ age,” D. Blake said. “I enjoyed my science classes more than anything. I had a teacher come to me and say this was a skill I had, and who doesn’t want to hear they have a skill, so I always gravitated to it from that point on.”
It was also early on in his life when he realized that he wanted to be a teacher. It wasn’t only D. Blake who knew this, because others suggested he became a teacher, too.
“I had people tell me that I should go into teaching [when I was] young. Of course, we never listen to our elders,” D. Blake said. “My moment I thought about teaching was when I was doing swim instruction for five, six, seven year olds, and the gratification that came with kids getting it and being excited really meant something to me. Couple that with science and it was a no-brainer to put two and two together.”
After high school, D. Blake decided to come to the Lower Peninsula to attend Central Michigan University and to get away from the Upper Peninsula.
“I had things to learn culturally: clothes you wear, how you speak, your interests. It took me well over a year to acclimate,” D. Blake said.
D. Blake not only spent a while getting used to life down in the relatively crowded Lower Peninsula. It also took him some time to grow out of his college days and into the professional he is today.
“My second or third year of teaching, we did the goldfish lab. Everybody that had biology remembers the goldfish lab, and you look at its tail [under a microscope]. Well, I was a young teacher and a kid said, ‘I’ll swallow one if you swallow one.’ So I did. I was right out of college. But that meant that… he had to. So there was a little peer pressure and he swallowed one too, but only barely,” D. Blake said. “Then I remember that moment in my career I thought, ‘Wait a minute, I’m not a college kid anymore, I’m a professional, and maybe that wasn’t the right move.”
Now that he has had plenty of time to settle in as a teacher at RHS, he says that he cannot imagine doing anything else with his life, though he says there was always one alternative he kept in mind.
“If there was another career I went into, I’d have been a chef. It’s still kind of a science to put things together. The same outcome comes with being a chef, you’re trying to produce a product that people enjoy.” D. Blake said.
L. Blake would likely support him in this career, as she spoke very highly of many of his recipes, including his homemade pot pie, barbeque chicken pizza, and their family favorite, his Fitz Burger.
Luckily, D. Blake has not had to resort to any of his alternative career choices. He says that he is truly happy in the place he is now.
“It’s great to be around society, and kids. For those of us who are getting my age, 48, you guys as kids keep us a little young and current still and fill us with life that, who knows, we might not otherwise have,” D. Blake said. “And then of course, the gratification of watching people grow is pretty special.”
He is not the only one that thinks he’s in the right place. His wife, Lela Blake, who he says, “knows more about him than anyone probably should,” is also a teacher at RHS and she also deeply supports him.
“He enjoys teaching what he loves, and I believe his hope is that even if students are not ‘science’ lovers, they’ll learn and enjoy it at the same time. He is an excited salesman of science!” L. Blake said.
D. Blake also loves the outdoors. He attributes his love for biology and his hobby of running to this.
“I love the outdoors, so my favorite is probably the ecology portion [of science] where we talk about the outdoors and organisms being outside,” D. Blake said. “I mean, I like it all, genetics is great and the human body is great, and all that comes with it is awesome and where science is going, but ecology is probably my favorite.”
This love of the outdoors extends to the rest of his family, as well. He and his family take outings into nature because they all enjoy it.
“We love being outside. We love boating, biking, hiking, camping, kayaking, and traveling. We’ve travelled to several national parks to enjoy the solitude and grandeur,” L. Blake said. “Having been together for 22 years, we have many common interests.”
L. Blake described the wide variety of experiences their family has had together while out hiking, and how it has brought them closer together.
“We’ve hiked the Grand Canyon, fields and coasts in England, Sleeping Bear Dunes, and the Jungles of Belize. We walk or hike to explore wherever we go. Sometimes we’ll follow the path, and sometimes – when we feel it’s safe – we’ll blaze our own trail like we did in Yellowstone.” L. Blake said. “Even though he likes adventure, safety is alway key. We always bring plenty of water. We are also into looking for wildlife and taking pictures to check out nature.”
Past their outdoor adventures, L. Blake also stressed that he is a great father to their children in other ways.
“In general, he is knowledgeable about life sciences and has taught our children so much over the years and experienced nature,” L. Blake said.
Kelsey Wink, a senior and student of D. Blake’s, is his independent study this year. “Mr. Blake has a passion for teaching. He is truly interested and cares about the material he’s teaching and he is able to reflect that same emotion into the students,” Wink said. “He brings so much energy into his class that it’s hard to to be excited about it, too.”
D. Blake encourages his students to find what interests him the same way he said his teachers encouraged him when he went to school.
“Use high school, free education, to take all the classes, science included. But don’t just take science,” D. Blake said, “dabble in everything this high school has to offer, and if at the end of the day, science is what calls to you, and you’ve seen everything, then you know.”
This method of encouraging students to find their interest and pursue it in life appears to have worked. Wink actually chose to be D. Blake’s independent study to further study biology and microbiology.
“I chose to be Mr. Blake’s independent study because it would allow me to further study biology and microbiology,” Wink said. “By telling us we can help shape the face of science, I’ve become more interested in learning about how I can help shape it.”
Above all else, what D. Blake takes the most pride in as a teacher is seeing students succeed. The best moments of his career are the ones where he watches the students get excited and when he sees them proud of themselves.
“I really like addressing the NHS (National Honor Society) students on Senior Day, when they’re on the floor, that’s an activity I really enjoy,” D. Blake said. “I love graduation, where everyone gets to see the fruits of their labor: kids do, we as staff do. Watching kids’ satisfaction as they walk across the stage, that’s a great moment. I like when kids show passion for what we do here. Kids get behind their Wyandotte. Bears for life.”