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Long-term sub making lasting impact

posted Apr 29, 2019, 12:43 PM by Andrew Tichy
By: Isaac Leiseth

Mr. Smith is a long term sub currently working for Mrs. Hanson in the Math department. Mrs. Hanson (and therefore Mr. Smith) teaches advanced algebra and geometry. I personally have him in geometry, and I will talk a little bit about my experience with him later, but first I have some stuff from my interview with him. Teaching has always been part of who Mr. Smith is, and in his own words: “I've always enjoyed helping others learn. My mother operated an in-home child care facility while I was growing up. I helped her with the younger children, and helped with the preschool lessons. As I grew older, I noticed I really enjoyed helping other people when they were confused or struggling with an assignment. People told me I was good at explaining stuff, I guess I just ran with it.” Math, however, was a later interest. Again using Mr. Smith’s own words: “I was never an excellent math student. In the time I was raised, there was a large emphasis on memorization of times tables and other memorization stuff. I never thought I was good at math, because i wasn't too good at memorizing that stuff. It was when I started learning the basics of algebra that I really started to understand and enjoy math. It was like a puzzle, to find the value of the variable. I read a cool quote recently... Albert Einstein's uncle Jakob taught him how to do algebra. Uncle Jakob described algebra as ‘a merry science’. He said algebra could be compared to hunting a little animal. You didn't know the name of the animal, so you called it ‘x’. Then when you finally caught the animal you gave it the correct name”.

Teaching math is certainly where Mr. Smith’s skills lie, as he has taken over the job of an esteemed math teacher and continued to support the same students almost as well as Mrs. Hanson did herself. I asked him where he planned to go for here with his teaching, and his answer was very simple; “Teach, I suppose. I don't think I'm going to revolutionize the education system or anything like that. I certainly needs work, but I just want to help people learn math.” I also asked him about some favorites, specifically his favorite thing about teaching math and his favorite branch of math. To the first question he responded that his favorite part of teaching math at MHS is that “Most of the students seem to actually want to know how to do these things.” His favorite math branch was a little harder for him to answer, though he did mention combinatorics, which was a term that I had to look up.

I personally have Mr. Smith as a math teacher, and I think he is great. He has a passion that I rarely see in teachers in general, especially math teachers. While Mrs. Hanson may well be better at teaching math to all levels of comprehension, Mr. Smith has an infectious drive that, frankly, has renewed my interest in math just from me being around him. It’s followed up by conversations too: some of my favorite conversations at school this year have been with Mr. Smith, talking about everything from angles to 4+ dimensional objects to angles in 4+ dimensions. I think Mr. Smith is something special, and I’m incredibly excited to see if he continues to teach at Moorhead High. If he does, I definitely hope to have him again.