Steve is motivated by his students and the importance of learning math. With 14 years of experience as a lawyer, he’s learned how to break down concepts and since 2003 has been helping students learn Algebra.
I was a lawyer for 14 years, but I always wanted to be a teacher. I saw a subway ad for NYCTF and pursued it. I’ve been teaching for 13 years. Being a lawyer influenced my ability to grapple with the curriculum and present it to students in the way they find interesting. One of my strengths is the ability to say things in a very understandable way. I’m good at simplifying things and getting to the root of what kids need to know. For my first few years, I taught at a school with a high percentage of kids with IEPs and learning disabilities. And I was good at that. I didn’t dumb things down but just made it clear for kids at all levels to understand.
In 2004, another Fellow and I, Steve Watson, developed JMAP, a website that collects and categorizes the questions by topic from previous Regents exams and is updated immediately to reflect the newest exams. It provides free access to all students to the resources that will help them pass the Regents exam. JMAP is an opportunity for all students across the state to have access to free online resources that will help them succeed on the exam. Before JMAP, teachers had to sort through old exams to know how to develop their curriculum. When Steve and I began teaching, we realized we weren’t preparing our students effectively because we didn’t know what to expect from the Regents. JMAP has evolved over the years as the standards and New York state curriculum has evolved. It also tackles an equity issue. A lot of kids can’t afford the study guides for the Regents so we provide this resource to them.
I’m trying to prove that every student can learn and succeed in high school. I want them to be happy and have positive memories of high school. I want them to be able to say that they learned in my class and had a good time doing it. I will always remember their youthful enthusiasm. They come to the classroom hungry to learn and wanting to succeed. I love seeing that.
Teaching is a wonderful opportunity. It’s so entertaining. It’s a challenge every day and full of unexpected surprises. It’s not pouring over contracts or reviewing practices over and over again. It’s different every day. If you have 170 students, you have 170 challenges every day.