Todd Siekman – A Life Aquatic
Faculty Spotlight: Science Teacher Todd Siekman
It’s not confirmed, but we’re pretty sure Todd Siekman is half fish. He’s spent most of his life in and on the water and, as a 19 year faculty member, he shares that passion with everyone in the Gould community. From teaching Marine Science, to running the Polar Bear club on icy spring mornings, to fundraising for LifeFlight of Maine, aquatics are ever-present in Todd’s life.
Todd grew up summering on Islesboro, Maine where he had the opportunity to swim and be outdoors daily.
“I swam competitively throughout my life and through college. After that it became more of a hobby. But I used to spend winters working on schooners in the Caribbean. Every day I would swim or scuba dive. I’ve been scuba diving since I was 17.”
The Siekmans still summer on Islesboro, or ‘The Island’, and Todd has continued to swim recreationally.
When he first began searching for teaching jobs, Maine was his first choice. At the time, however, there were no openings in the state, so he ended up working at Cushing Academy. It was during his time at Cushing that Todd met Brad Clarke who told him about a small school in the mountains of Maine. Brad came in 1997, and Todd, his wife Kara, and children Ian ’07 and Seana ’09 followed in 1998. An opportunity in Maine, in the mountains, with ample outdoor activities, and a family friendly community? It was exactly what they were looking for. A few years later, their daughter Caroline ’22 came along and their roots were firmly established here in Bethel.
Western Maine doesn’t offer the endless expanse of water afforded by coastal living, but Todd has made it work. He took over the Polar Bear Club, which meets twice a week in the spring, as soon as the ice is out, for early morning swims in frigid waters. It’s a big commitment and only the strong survive. The prize for not missing a single session? A block of ice.
Not only is he an experienced science educator, but Todd also manages to find time to keep up his Sea Captain’s license. In the fall of 2015, Todd combined these two passions and introduced a very popular Marine Science course at Gould. The course is focused on experiential learning and culminates in an overnight research trip on a 70 ft sailboat in Penobscot Bay. On the coast the students collect samples of water and plankton, perform tests for temperature and salinity, and then bring back samples to the lab in McLaughlin Science Center for analysis. Todd also always makes sure there is time for a swim.
In January of 2014, Todd was diagnosed with a clementine sized brain tumor. Swimming then became his focus for rehabilitation. Being competitive and goal-oriented as he is, Todd was motivated to participate in a 5k (3.1 MILES!) swim from the mainland to Islesboro that same summer. His speed of recovery was nothing short of remarkable and he has maintained his commitment by participating in this open ocean swim, that raises money to help support LifeFlight, for the past three summers and has no plans to quit.
Todd Siekman Q&A
High School: Worcester Academy
B.A. Bowdoin College
M.S. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)
Proudest Achievement: Helping to raise 3 wonderful children
Last book I read: David Baldacci’s “Last Mile”
My soundtrack is: Jimmy Buffett “Son of a Sailor”
Movie I would recommend: Gladiator (2000)
Favorite food: Sashimi
One word that describes me: Passionate
Best advice I ever received:
If you are going take the time to do something, do it as best you can
I love the outdoors and experiential learning
What’s the last thing you crossed off your bucket list?