Learn more about Owl professor Daniel Wennersten, whose mission to change the world through inspired math instruction is carried out each day in his virtual classroom at iUniversity Prep.
About Mr. Wennersten:
“I grew up in Fort Worth and studied mathematics at the University of Texas at Arlington, where I was in the Honors College. I began teaching in 2007 at Colleyville Heritage High School, and subsequently joined the iUniversity Prep faculty in 2012.”
What made you want to become a teacher?
“During my senior year, I authored a research paper about math instruction methodologies that ended up changing my life. By the time I was finished, the project had ignited an ambition to help more young people enjoy math by making a difference in the way that math is taught and learned. I immediately began working on an alternative teaching certification [the certification program for professionals who come from disciplines outside of education] so that I could go straight into teaching right out of college.
“Years later, while I was teaching Algebra in a traditional school setting, someone referred me to Dr. Rogers, who was then in the process of getting iUniversity Prep ready to open. Instantly, I was intrigued by the possibilities and potential of teaching at a virtual school - but I was also concerned that a virtual teaching post might leave me too detached from my students. Dr. Rogers assured me that this wasn’t going to be the case - and she was right! I’ve actually had more opportunities to provide individual support to students in this environment, so I’ve been nothing but glad that I made the move to iUniversity Prep.”
How would you describe your teaching style?
“I don’t just offer math instruction, I try to offer support and guidance to each student based on where they are in their academic lives. One way I do this is by asking my students’ questions about where they want to go to college or what kind of careers interest them. Then I’ll work with them to research math course graduation requirements for their college of choice, or I’ll help them understand how math will be used on their jobs. These discussions help connect the dots between the students’ future lives and the math they’re learning today.”
What do you like most about being an online teacher?
“I love helping students be successful - and I particularly enjoy finding creative ways for students to learn, whether it’s finding the right video tutorial for a struggling student or locating advanced material for students who are intrigued by math theory. I also love working with my fellow iUniversity Prep teachers. They truly care about their students, and they are very innovative in their methods of instruction. I learn something new from them each year!”
What does a typical day look like for you?
“Of course each day is a little different, but generally: I fire up the computer early in the morning and focus on parent and student communication first - responding to emails, texts, calls, and so forth. (Responsiveness is a major priority at iUniversity Prep - in fact, I consider it the foundation for our success as a school.) After I knock out an initial round of communications, I usually prep instructional materials or lead a live lesson. In the afternoons and evenings I hold tutorials or grade papers.”
How do you get inspired?
“I find that serving my class as a whole while also serving the individual needs of students fuels me the most. The educational needs, dreams, and futures of my students drive my choices throughout the day. I can’t imagine my life without them!”
One thing he wants every student to know:
“I want every student to know that he or she is worth the personal time, energy, and effort it takes to achieve success. Success is personal and defined by the individual, and it is my goal to help all students achieve their success!”
Advice for parents and students:
“For parents: Reach out with questions and concerns as soon as you have them. Online school can be very different from traditional brick-and-mortar school. So it’s a given that you’re going to need help getting acclimated when you’re new, and that you’ll have issues along the way even after you get settled in.
“For students: Time management is especially critical for the online student. Deadlines are more flexible, like in college, so you have to be ready to self manage. Here’s an important tip: Your pace will slow as the semester goes on and the material becomes more difficult. Take advantage of the beginning of the semester, when we’re still in review mode, to work ahead.”
What do you like to do when you’re not teaching?
“I enjoy camping and fishing, helping plants grow, playing around with computer programming, and learning the guitar. I am intensely curious about life and I love to learn!”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. Kaye Rogers received her Ph.D. in Educational Administration with a minor in Statistics from the University of North Texas. She earned her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Tarleton State University. A life-long Texan, she has taught math and science in public schools and also in Spain. She has worked in public education for over 18 years, where she is committed to innovation and choice for families. She has opened three choice schools and is currently the Director of Virtual Learning at Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, where she oversees their state-wide virtual school and blended schools program.
Learn more about iUniversity Prep and see if online learning is right for your child. Check us out at www.iuniversityprep.org or give us a call at 817-305-4895.
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