Forensic science is not your average high school class in the area. Harlan County High School teacher Damon Lewis was chosen to teach this unusual class, as an elective, to students interested in this field of study.
“This class has been taught in the past, but was dropped for a while. The school decided to bring it back this year as an elective,” said Lewis. “It’s always good for the science department to offer an extension to the science program here at Harlan County High School.”
Forensic Science is any science used for the purposes of the law, and therefore providing impartial scientific evidence for use in the courts of law, e.g. in a criminal investigation and trial.
“The class educates the students in a way that encourages them to think scientifically and ethically,” said Lewis. “They quickly realize that it’s not always as they see it on CSI. Crime scene processing takes time and strategic effort from numerous agencies directed towards a judicial platform. The students are made more aware of the multi-faceted approach to solving crimes, and that there are numerous occupations that contribute to the fairness of any trial.”
Lewis said the class is not just limited to upperclassmen, he also has a lot of freshmen and sophomores taking the class.
“I like the fact that students who do choose to take the class are interested in science in general,” said Lewis. “It helps them find opportunity for employment in our area, whether it be law enforcement, judicial services, or something in the medical field.”
Lewis said the students are able to use the school’s Smart Boards to view the University of Tennessee’s “body farm,” where bodies are stored to study decomposition.
“The students who take this class seem to enjoy this aspect of the class,” said Lewis. “I don’t think they realized this was actually a thing which is happening at the university. This falls into the Anthropology category of the class. The students also study car crash scene reconstruction. If they decide to go into the law enforcement field they will need this type of information. I feel really honored to have been chosen to teach this class. I’ve been called a science nerd and I tell my kids I’m not as much of a nerd as I’d like to be. There is nothing wrong with knowledge and it’s free for the taking here at HCHS. I encourage students to grasp knowledge and see the importance of knowledge and science.”
Lewis has been teaching for the past seven years. He also teaches Environmental Science at HCHS. A Putney resident, 37-year-old Lewis is a Harlan County native, graduating from Cumberland High School, Lincoln Memorial University and received his master’s degree from Union College in Barbourville. He is a member of the National Science Teachers Association and an assistant basketball coach at the school. He and his wife, Heather, who is a second grade teacher at Rosspoint Elementary School, have three children.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at firstname.lastname@example.org