First-year Math Mentor Ryan Luther engages students at Quest Forward Academy in Omaha. He brings many years of experience to the classroom, likes to share how math applies to the real world, and also has a handy supply of power tools.
What is your subject, and what courses have you taught this year (grade of student, etc.)? How long have you been teaching at Quest Forward Academy Omaha?
Ryan Luther: I teach math for all the classes at Quest Forward Academy Omaha. This is my first year of teaching [at Quest Forward Academy].
How did you come to Quest Forward Academy? How long have you been teaching?
RL: I saw the posting for a math opening at the Academy and applied. I will be finishing my 17th year of teaching when this school year completes. I have taught in Nebraska, Texas, Florida, and Maryland previously.
What do you like most about teaching at Quest Forward Academy?
RL: I enjoy the opportunity to be on the front line of a changing educational landscape. Students do have more self-reliance and accountability than at some of the other schools I have been at. I like the ability to mentor students at their pace, rather than an arbitrary timeline.
Do you have outside talents or hobbies that you bring into your mentoring? How have you integrated your own interests into your classes?
RL: I do have my daily music playlists that the kids get exposed to. During our music instrument-building, I brought in all of my power tools to help students make their instruments.
What is something that surprised or excited you in the classroom?
RL: Most of the memorable things have been seeing students make the connection between mathematics and the real world.
How has your approach to teaching shifted at Quest Forward Academy?
RL: It hasn’t been a whole shift from what I was doing before: discovery learning, group work, etc. But having the student be responsible for their learning experience is probably the biggest difference. The [Essential] Habits are pretty much intertwined with each other, so if one is lacking, it affects the others. That, and getting students to realize that their decisions/habits/choices affect the overall outcome of their daily/weekly/monthly production.
What are you hoping the next school year brings? What do you think you will do differently or approach in a new way next year?
RL: I hope to see more continued opportunities to improve the curriculum. I will also be able to start with a much better understanding of how the curriculum works and what I can do to supplement students’ learning. I also hope to sponsor a student-led volunteer club, where we will volunteer weekly or monthly and to organize the school-wide Day of Service.