This page is about Mr. Yocom, math teacher at Westlake High School and the classes he teaches there. Mr. Yocom didn't start college thinking he would be a teacher. He started majoring in Electronic Engineering, which changed to Civil Engineering to build on his experiences working in building construction. Many of the school buildings in Alpine School District have been worked on by Mr. Yocom as a young man.
Due to health issues in his junior year in college he had to quit school to find work to support his wife, young son, and the doctor. He worked as a structural steel detailer (draftsman) for a few months then was able to land a job with USX at its Geneva Works. He was a Junior Fuel and Utilities Engineer. A big part of his job included figuring a daily fuel usage report when on graveyard shift. He realized he could program his programmable (a precursor of today's graphing calculators) calculator to do the work. One day he was talking with a former classmate from college about how this report could be automated. The classmate was working on finding things just like that. In a few weeks there was far less need for Junior Fuel and Utilities Engineers and as the latest hire, he was laid off. The former classmate only worked for a few more months as USX closed the plant.
There were few if any jobs for people with his background so he looked into going back to school. He had found he didn't like working just to make the company money. There are probably many engineering jobs that bring the engineer a chance to see his or her work help others but not all of them do. Mr. Yocom wanted to be sure he would be in a job that would help him see some of the help he was giving those he worked with. Checking the requirements he found he could get a degree in Math Education in only one more semester than it would take to finish his engineering training. That semester would be student teaching. Talking with people trying to help those displaced by that economic downturn he found them willing to help with school costs. All he had to do was find a part time job to pay for gas and food. His mother-in-law and father-in-law had offered to let the young family stay in the basement. At this point there were now two children with the birth of a daughter shortly after losing the job with USX.
That part time job started his association with Alpine School District as he was a part time sweeper at Pleasant Grove Junior High. He actually vacuumed the floors of classrooms of teachers he had when he was in junior high. At least a new building had been built. With finishing his degree he has been a math teacher ever since. His minor was computer science and many of his teaching years have included teaching computer science and computer programming classes. He taught for three years in Idaho before coming back to Alpine School District. While in Idaho a second daughter was added to the family for a total of three children.
So, there is a write up like it might appear in a news report or some other situation where just the facts are given. Now let me talk about what I like about being a teacher and what I hope I can bring to Westlake High School. As stated above I have a very strong desire to see the help I give others. As a teacher this is the best part of the job. When Lone Peak High was opening I got the opportunity to work there. I had been teaching for just about twelve years and had found what I thought would be a good way of helping my students. Now, twelve years later I get a similar opportunity at Westlake. There were many things we did right starting Lone Peak but there are some things I would definitely change. Talking with Mr. Openshaw I think he is trying to set an atmosphere similar to what I would want in a new school. I hope to help set that atmosphere. I see my job as helping students reach high goals so my standards are not easy to change, but one of those standards is to help in any way the system will let me. Those of you in my classes will always find me willing to help, except during tests when you need to show off to me by doing a great job on your own. If you come to me for help and I start asking you questions it is to find how to help you. Many times those questions help you see what you need to do before I figure out just what was causing you difficulty. At times I like to walk away after such a situation feeling like I am the greatest teacher in the world but reality always sets in shortly and I realize the student has done most of the work. All I did was ask the right questions. Sometimes we find a point the student needs explained and we take off together on a journey of discovery.
Mr. Openshaw knows what the students of this community are like, having worked with them during his time at the junior high. He told me I would find many students willing to work to discover those skills and ways of thinking. I am very excited to be working in such a situation. As I know more about the classes I will be teaching more pages will appear here. There will be schedules and links to help you stay somewhat caught up when missing class. It will help you know when to expect tests and other assessments. There may be blogs and other aids set up as we learn together how best to help you.
To start this study and learn what mathematics is go here