Dan M. is “The Best of Us” because he stirs passion for math in his students, uses best practices in education to inspire student success, and plays a major role in Reagan’s thriving and proud school community.
It’s no secret that students are struggling nationally and district-wide in math, and Dan has confronted that issue head-on. Dan knows his students will more likely excel if the content and skills are meaningful and relevant, so he regularly incorporates mathematical games and connections to everyday life. His students love math because he loves math. Each year on π-day, Dan dresses up in an outrageous costume. Last year, he was featured on the district webpage as “Superpiman”, and this March he dressed as a pirate. Dan even has a hidden tattoo of the Fibonacci spiral, or golden ratio, and he will excitedly explain its significance in art, science, and nature.
Within his classroom, Dan goes above and beyond to help students succeed. Dan is ahead of the curve, recording lessons for students to watch before coming to school so that class time is best spent on answering questions and applying skills.
Dan uses a Smart Board to make engaging and interactive in-class lessons and has offered a professional development session to introduce fellow staff to this technology. He incorporates hands-on assignments that apply math theory, like constructing and launching a trebuchet.
After class, Dan co-hosts Math Club for those who need tutoring and allows students to retake assessments until they are proficient in the material. His classroom is always buzzing with students seeking assistance or just a laugh with their favorite teacher.
Perhaps most exciting for his students was a visit from the host and crew of PBS’s Idea Channel. On “Fun Fridays,” Dan’s study hall watches episodes and responds online to the daily topic. The host of the show has given a number of “shout outs” to Dan’s students and eventually asked to come film the class. Dan anxiously waited, surprising his students and they were indeed trilled by the special visitor.
Outside of the classroom, Dan tirelessly works with Reagan students to strengthen the vibrant culture of our school. He is in charge of the student council, collaborating with students to plan spirit days and dances during weekly meetings and sometimes weekends and breaks.
He has organized healthy initiatives like “Reagan’s Biggest Loser,” encouraging staff to get fit together, and an all-school 5k run/walk to celebrate Reagan and build relationships with our neighbors. He even volunteered to shave his head if students raised enough money for cancer research… which they did. With all of these responsibilities, Dan is still at school bright and early and stays late to guarantee that students get the most from Reagan, both academically and socially. He is an incredibly supportive co-worker, offering me advice or concern when I am challenged. Dan is genuinely enthusiastic about creating a positive environment for everyone and truly embodies a hard-working, passionate teacher.