Science with Mr. Cheff


Tyler Cheff teaches biology at Kalani High School. He was born and raised in Idaho and taught at Leilehua for 20 years before joining the teaching staff at Kalani two years ago. Photo by Litea Kauvaka.

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Mr. Tyler Cheff teaches biology at Kalani High School. He previously taught at Leilehua High for 20 years. Leilehua is a military school up in the country and he said he was impressed by the diversity of students.

“That was one of the really cool things about it, seeing kids from completely different parts of the country work together and often become friends,” Mr. Cheff said. “That’s probably the main difference between Kalani and Leilehua, the diversity of the student body. Other than that, I think the majority of high school students are very similar!”

He grew up in Lewiston, Idaho, and graduated from Lewiston High School. He then went to the University of Hawaii but finished his college requirements at Lewis-Clark State College in Idaho.

He grew up wanting to be a college baseball coach like his father. He coached college baseball together with his father for 5 years, then moved back to Hawaii.

“This stayed with me even after playing days had ended,” Mr.Cheff said. “My plan was to teach high school science while coaching baseball, preferably college.”

Both of his parents were educators. His dad taught high school English prior to coaching, and his mom was an elementary teacher. He said this is what “piqued” his interest in the profession.

“Coaching and teaching are very similar, each deals with setting goals, instruction, practice, performance, counseling, etc., so the transition from baseball coach to high school teacher was an easy one to make,” Mr. Cheff said.

I actually love it when I get bombarded with questions!

— Tyler Cheff

His favorite part of teaching is working with students. 

“I actually love it when I get bombarded with questions!” he said.

He says that it is “extremely” satisfying for him to see students gain an interest in science and pursue it beyond high school. 

“Teaching synchronously (online and in-person at the same time) is incredibly challenging,” he said. “I can barely manage doing one thing at a time, let alone several. I truly admire the teachers who are able to do this successfully.”

He has gone to a more asynchronous approach, having students do more online labs and projects while at home. The best thing about this year for him is when the students came back to school.

“I never thought teaching ‘live students’ was something that I’d have ever taken for granted,” Mr. Cheff said. “But man, it was great having students come back!”