We all know, Nick, that you come from the USA. But could you describe more precisely from which state you are? What is it like there?
I come from Minnesota which has some interesting stereotypes such as cold, snowy winters, foods like tater-tot hotdish (which is amazing) and lutefisk (not so amazing), accents similar to those of Canadians, and “Minnesotan goodbyes” which can last hours when trying to leave a family gathering. Geographically, most of Minnesota was covered by glaciers and so the land has rolling hills suitable for farmland and thousands of lakes for which Minnesota is named (Dakota for “Land of sky blue waters”). The most popular sport is hockey and the state team, the Minnesota Wild, is one of the state’s most successful clubs.
Why did you decide to come to Slovakia?
I decided to teach in Slovakia after hearing of the opportunity through connections at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church. But backing up, I spent time as an exchange student in Germany while still in high school. This experience, paired with deciding on the career path I would follow after university studies in mathematics and teaching, I wished to immerse myself in a new culture. Thus, when I learned of the connection between St. Andrew’s and this school, I was excited to begin this new adventure.
You teach math. What do you love most about mathematics?
I always was a high-achiever in mathematics growing up and even throughout university, which made loving mathematics easier. However, what really changed my attitude about mathematics was learning proof writing in college. These courses changed the way I viewed math as an entire subject. I went from memorizing formulas and methods for solving equations to putting together a puzzle of logic that explained why the formulas and equation solving methods were valid. So in short, I love the proof of mathematics and filling in its complex puzzle.
Math is often quite unpopular with students. Why should students give this subject a chance?
As I mentioned before, proof truly changed my attitude towards math. What I did not mention is that with learning proof and logic, I gained an immense set of tools for critical thinking and argumentation. That said, learning in mathematics is not limited to only mathematics content. The same tools learned in a math classroom transfer to solving complicated problems, making rational arguments, finding patterns in information, and even the ethic of perseverance when the going gets tough. Even more so, as technology and the workforce advance, these same skills are sought after by employers.
Who was your favourite teacher in school and why?
Surprisingly, my favourite teacher in high school was an English/Language Arts teacher, Mr. Gavin. Now I was never a student who enjoyed reading and writing essays much, but he had a way to make his subject interesting through storytelling and giving a full context for the stories we explored, as well as having helped me with applying to colleges and universities.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment is coaching my tennis players to having their best season in the last ten years.
If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?
I would spend the day exploring nature, most likely around lakes, forests, or mountains.
Do you like or dislike surprises? Why or why not?
I do not like surprises. I find myself most comfortable when I know most anything and everything that is happening around me, and surprises throw that off.
If you could share a meal with any three individuals, living or dead, who would they be?
If I could share a meal with anyone, I would like to dine with Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, and Batman.
What three words would your friends use to describe you?
Honest, nerdy, and awkward.
Rozhovor pripravila Ivana Sopúchová