Every week, The Cranberry Eagle will spotlight a local educator, providing a glimpse into what makes them tick. QUESTION: Why did you become a teacher? ANSWER: I initially was interested in research. However, as I taught some biology labs while pursuing my graduate degree, I came to really enjoy teaching/helping students understand scientific concepts. QUESTION: What is one sentence that sums up what you believe is the key to teaching? ANSWER: For me, the key to teaching is to keep student expectations high while instructing with passion and compassion. QUESTION: When you’re not teaching, you most likely can be found doing what? ANSWER: Enjoying time with my family. QUESTION: What is one thing about you that likely would surprise your students? ANSWER: I have a star shape on the bottom of my right foot. It is courtesy of me stepping on a metal holiday star cookie cutter 5 years ago. Ouch! THOMAS LAVELLE SCHOOL: Seneca Valley Intermediate High School GRADE: 9th grade biology EXPERIENCE: 14 years HOMETOWN: South Bend, Ind. RESIDENCE: Gibsonia FAMILY: Wife, Anne; three daughters, Emma, 8, Meghan, 5, Sarah, 4; and a son, Jonathan, 1.