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 I 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,...
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 I 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 Inn 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 5 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 also taught a 3-semester hour Computer Essentials Course at Collin College for 4 years from 2001-2005 as an Adjunct Associate College Professor.
From 2003 to 2013, I also taught 10 different Middle School Math with Brain Teasers at Greenhill School's Summer on the Hill Program. In 2002, I proposed a Middle School Math with Brain Teasers Course, which the Summer School Director said they had previously tried a math course, with no success. She let me teach this class in the summer of 2003 and I had full classes for two sessions. It was so successful, I taught this for several years and even taught younger students 4th-5th grade. One year, I was asked to also teach an Algebra and Geometry Refresher Courses. I had parents tell me that their children had a new understanding of math, that it was fun, etc.
In the summer of 2013, I started tutoring for a Math Learning Center as their lead Math Instructor. I helped work with students in math from 1st grade to 12th grade.
In May 2014, I was ask to teach Math at The Einstein School in Plano. I was contacted by someone who I used to tutor for her tutoring company years earlier. She got tired of the way our education system was going in the public/private school sector, especially concerning students with IEPs and 504's. She was so fed up; she started her own school with only 4 students and two teachers. She asked for me to come teach for her and I quickly joined the school. This is a private, non-profit, 501.c.3 school that serves 5th - 12th grade students. We are currently in our 6th year of operation.
I am currently the Math Team Lead for our Math Department. This school year, 2016-2017 I am teaching; Algebra 1, two classes of Pre-Algebra, 7th Grade Math, Math Models and Algebra 2. I am also tutoring students before/after school. I am also sponsoring The Stock Market Game for our school.
My style is to use my sense of humor, try and find out why a student is having problems, use manipulatives or examples, questions, 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.
In the summer of 2014 I was tasked to tutoring a West Plano High School Senior who could not graduate in May, because he failed his TAKS Exit Level Exam 4 times. I tutored him throughout the summer via Skype (his family was on vacation in New York during the summer) and with phone calls. I gave him material for 7th, 8th, 10th and 11th grade Math Concepts. I worked with him a few times in September and once in Oct, 2014. He passed his 5th and final Exit TAKS Test with flying colors and was able to graduate.
It is frustrating for me to have someone fail 4 times at a very large public school, but not get the support he/she needs to be successful.
One last thing, when my daughter was going to Clark High School in Plano 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 over 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 Wright, V M.S.
Math Teacher, Math Team Lead
The Einstein School in Plano, Texas
Certified Math 8-12 (2010-2016)
Certified Technology Applications EC-12 (2011-2016)
Major (Retired), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers