I have been teaching mathematics since 2001, and this is my third career. I grew up as a military brat (my father is a retired Air Force Master Sergeant and lived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for my 8th-10th grades). I went to a small college in Louisiana (Southeastern Louisiana University) and majored in mathematics. In 1981, I entered active duty as a 2LT in the Army Corps of Engineers. I retired as a Major in 1996. I gained a lot of experience in the Army as a project engineer, construction planning, maps, topography, computers, etc. Mathematics was a vital role in my day to day jobs. Prior to entering the Army, I worked as a manager of a Sonic Drive In Restaurant while going to college (Math was really important). After I retired from the Army, I spent 4 years working as a project manager with some local area companies such as DSC Communications, Alcatel, Wireless Facilities, Inc., IVPCARE, InterVoice and SBC/Cingular Wireless.
In July 2001, my mother-in-law was dying of cancer. I was tired of working 50-70 hour weeks in Corporate America and missed the days of waking up in the morning and making a difference in this world. On July 3, 2001, I resigned from my project manager position with only a dream of teaching math. I remember a co-worker asking me what I was going to do, and I replied that I had always wanted to teach math in school and maybe teach a college course in computers. Believe it or not, within 30 days, I was hired to do both. I have taught at 4 different schools since 2001 and taught mathematics from 4th to 12th grade including pre-calculus, math models with applications, Algebra II, geometry, algebra, pre-algebra, middle school math, Saxon Math, and 4th-8th grade math. I taught a 3-semester hour Computer Essentials Course at Collin County Community College for 4 years from 2001-2005 as an adjunct associate college professor.
I will teach 4 different summer school two-week math-related camps at Greenhill School this summer (this is my 9th year of teaching at their summer school program). In 2002, I proposed a Middle School Math with Brain Teasers Course, which they said they tried earlier with no luck. It is still going strong. I have had parents tell me that their children had a new understanding of math, that it was fun, etc.
My style is to use my sense of humor, try and find out why a student is having problems, use manipulatives or examples, question, etc. An example is that yesterday at my school I helped two other students with their Algebra II work. Both were having problems with two different concepts. When I was done helping them, it was "Is that it?" or "Is that all you have to do?" "That was Easy!".
I can't guarantee that my approach will work with every student, but I know that when students do not understand math from other teachers, parents, friends, other tutors, I can usually help.
One last thing, when my daughter was going to Clark High School and struggling with math, I worked with her on understanding the concept of slopes. When we were finished, she said she wished that I could have been her math teacher. She said her math teacher just repeated the definition of slope, no examples, no comparison to real life, etc. This is my approach...With my military engineering background, restaurant experience, and the 40 semester hours in mathematics/engineering credits, I hope I can apply the book knowledge and relate it to the outside world so your student can understand.
JohnK W., V M.S.
Math 8-12 Certification
Technology Applications EC-12
back to top