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Get to Know Our 20 Finalists!
Alex Hartz has been teaching for eight years. He teaches ninth-12th grade math (Algebra 1AB, Algebra 2 and AP Calculus BC) at Hononegah High School. A fellow teacher nominated him, saying “I know several of his students because of their involvement with the Math team. They rave about his teaching and how much he has influenced them in the passion for mathematics. He not only creates incredible enthusiasm for math talented students - he also is a favorite among students who struggle with math. I have been in education for over 35 years and I can easily attest to the fact that Alex would rank among the top 1-2% for outstanding and effective teaching.” Alex says, “As a college freshman declaring a secondary education major, I was unsure if I had the necessary skills and patience to teach high school students. I even went to great lengths to overload my schedule to major in mathematics as something to fall back on should I not enjoy teaching. Eight years into the profession … I can chuckle at that uncertainty. Teaching has become a passion of mine. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else as a career. I am excited to go to work each day and teach high school students the amazing story of math.” While considering a Stanford University study that concluded the centers of the brain responsible for logical, mathematical thought are overridden by the fear centers of the brain, Alex strives “to deactivate any fear or anxiety that may accompany a new math lesson, and alleviate math anxiety at the start of each lesson with a small joke, usually a comical visual pun based on the section title. These are often a horrible stretch of the imagination, but they do elicit a chuckle from the students and the sense of fear dissipating is tangible.”