High School Homeroom and Mathematics Teacher
“The people that make up the Odyssey community are some of the most genuine, reflective and kind people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.”
Prior to pursuing his love of teaching, Dan held, and retired from, a 20 year career as an engineer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Dan holds degrees in Aerospace and Electrical Engineering and brings his two decades of professional experience into the classroom to provide a practiced perspective on math and design. Over his engineering career, Dan had the opportunity to participate in environmental and atmospheric, airborne research projects across the globe. Working side by side with scientists from a wide variety of universities and government agencies worldwide, he came to understand the cooperation, ingenuity, dedication and practice required to conduct experimental research vital to answering fundamental scientific questions. Ideals he believes bring value to any academic endeavor.
In 2007, after retiring from his government position, Dan and his family moved to WNC, from Florida, and Dan immediately began teaching high school math at a small, private, and alternative school in Weaverville. It was during this time that Dan practiced teaching math in a non-traditional way. He developed an understanding that the traditional approach to teaching math, by rote memorization of algorithms, provided by the instructor, repeated by the student, is not a very effective way for the student to understand the art of solving problems, or learning to find solutions to questions. An alternative approach to teaching math to which Dan subscribes, provides students the opportunity to think about and develop original methods of solving problems prior to being shown the traditional approaches that have already been developed. The students are given the opportunity to collaborate on solution development, be it for theoretical questions and/or hands on projects. The students benefit from a deeper understanding of all the solution methods and become accustom to looking for solutions versus trying to remember the appropriate method the teacher demonstrated.
After a couple of years, when Dan’s two sons transferred into Odyssey, Dan had the opportunity to join Odyssey as an adjunct instructor, teaching ‘Intro to Programming’ and ‘Intro to Engineering Design’ electives. During this time, Dan benefitted from the unique environment and Integral teaching philosophy that help define Odyssey Community School. Returning this year to the Odyssey classroom, Dan hopes to dispel the anxiety many students feel when taking high school math courses. It is his intent to enrich courses he teaches with meaningful connections to the students’ lives, regardless of the course being taught. “I hope to be able to grow as an instructor and to take on more areas of instruction as Odyssey Community School expands in the years ahead. It is a unique delight to witness and be a part of a student’s learning and understanding of the world and their connection to it.” Outside of the classroom, Dan enjoys spending time with family and friends, exploring the wonders of Western North Carolina, reading fiction and non-fiction alike, travelling, eating, drinking and general frivolity.