Timothy R. Clark: Lone Peak High teacher uses calculus to teach about life

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  • mattrick78 Cedar City, UT
    Feb. 8, 2015 8:08 p.m.

    @Howard Beal

    Even if he had a reserve to teach "off the clock", I doubt that was his motivation i.e. had more time on his hands and therefore decides to put in more teaching hours. Besides, that part is but one component as to why his students have been successful.

  • theRealDeal West Valley City, UT
    Jan. 27, 2015 10:26 p.m.

    Atta boy Craig'

  • lonepeakstudent Alpine, UT
    Jan. 20, 2015 8:31 a.m.

    I'm incredibly frustrated by the people who are trying to make this article a political thing. Can't we just this once ignore politics and simply appreciate how great of a teacher and person this man is? Common Core has nothing to do with anything, there are FANTASTIC teachers who have spent their whole life teaching, as well as absymal teachers who came into the profession at a later age, and finally, while I agree teachers should be paid more, why does this article need to answer that question? It doesn't.

  • Harrison Bergeron Holladay , UT
    Jan. 19, 2015 10:32 p.m.

    "Smith...holds himself accountable to the results." This is an anathema in an educational system dominated by labor unions and practices such as tenure. No doubt he learned his work ethic and accountability from his time working for an 'evil' corporation.

    "What we’re trying to do is build confident, self-reliant, mentally tenacious and unafraid students who are prepared for life." Amen. Self-reliance. What a concept?? So foreign to those teaching children to rely on government, or look to government to solve their problems.

    "Calculus is a microcosm of life — if you’re willing to put in the effort, you can learn it." Hallelujah! He is teaching these kids the American Dream!

  • Harrison Bergeron Holladay , UT
    Jan. 19, 2015 10:31 p.m.

    Wow! Just Wow! Believe it or not, I guarantee there are some people who read this and are not happy. And there are even some who are angry. They wish he wasn't there doing what he is. They would like to find a way to get rid of him. Doing what he is doing, the way he is doing it, threatens so much of what they are telling everyone about education.

    There are some important takeaways here:

    "A non-traditional... teacher, Smith graduated...in electrical engineering..., worked for oil-giant Exxon and then spent several years...as a design engineer. He began his second career as a high school teacher with no teaching experience. "

    It's his time spent in the real world and his lack of "teaching experience" that makes him so good. He has not bought into all of the liberal biases that seem to permeate the public education system.


  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 19, 2015 11:57 a.m.

    What a great program. In my high school of 1200, there were only four in our advanced math class that included calculus. Newton and Leibniz must be proud.

    I have often maintained that everyone should have an introduction to calculus concepts, even if they don't "do" calculus (i.e. solve problems). You can cover the main ideas in a few class sessions. Calculus is all about change. Arithmetic is for a static world, but the world is dynamic and calculus gives you a framework for understanding it. Calculus infuses everything in our lives: marginal costs in economics, interest rates and the rule of 70 in finance, population growth, speed, acceleration-- all boil down to calculus. Ohm's Law for electricity, Darcy's Law for hydrology-- same thing. Calculus gets you thinking about change and rates of change, gets you thinking about graphs not just as lines and curves but as slopes and areas, all with meaning.

    When you are a carpet installer figuring the area of a rectangular room and you think of it not as length times width but as integrating dy/dx= "width" from 0 to "length", then you've got it.

  • kiddsport Fairview, UT
    Jan. 19, 2015 10:59 a.m.

    @Orem Parent-
    "Now what are we going to do to keep these great teachers in the profession?"
    Start by scrapping Common Core. Nowhere in this article or, I doubt, in Mr. Smith's philosophy will you find a one-size-fits-all approach to excellence.

    On another note, I wonder how much Mr. Smith uses student-coaches, allowing more advanced peers to help those needing additional help. I found that I learned things at a lot deeper level when I was helping someone else who was struggling.

  • Orem Parent Orem, UT
    Jan. 18, 2015 8:46 p.m.

    One of many great teachers I have encountered here in Utah. Thanks for teaching our children! I have found that just about every school in Utah has at least one Mr. Smith on the faculty. We just usually don't get to hear about them or celebrate them. Instead we have to read snippy comments about "failing public education". We are truly lucky in this state for the dedicated teachers and administrators. Thank you for highlighting one of them.

    Now what are we going to do to keep these great teachers in the profession?

  • DNEWS Rocks Heber City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2015 4:42 p.m.

    I wonder how many years Mr. Smith can keep up that schedule. Usually stories like this have the teacher leaving teaching in a few years. Lucky for those students who have Mr. Smith now! I hope he breaks the mold and stays long term!

  • lonepeakstudent Alpine, UT
    Jan. 18, 2015 3:37 p.m.

    Having had Mr. Smith as a teacher, I can tell you he is every bit as incredible as this article purports him to be. He makes Calculus fun and approachable by being fun and approachable himself. Lone Peak has some serious problems when it comes to the social scene, but the teachers there are incredible.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Jan. 18, 2015 12:18 p.m.

    While I praise this article on the power of teachers and what some teachers do off the clock to help their students, there is this other important reality. I imagine is some ways Mr. Smith built up some money reserves in his previous job to perhaps help him spend all this time with students on Saturdays or during his Christmas break. All too often teachers don't have the luxury to do these type of things. Many teachers have to take extra jobs to pay the bills which start after school or on the weekends, during their summer months and even during Christmas break. These type of jobs may or may not be tangential to teaching and working with students such as coaching, but sometimes they are not. I would like to see teachers get paid more so they could have this time to go the extra mile for their students. More money for teachers might actually mean better teaching because it could give this financial security for the truly inspired like Mr. Smith to spend more time with their students rather than scraping by doing other jobs just to augment their income.

  • GoldenGrizz86 West Jordan, UT
    Jan. 18, 2015 12:14 p.m.

    I am a teacher as well. I teach Spanish, which makes me bilingual meaning I could do a variety of other things for more money.

    I enjoy this work, and know that everyday I am making a difference in society and impacting far more lives than I would otherwise. My guess is that it's the same sentiment for this excellent math teacher as well.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    Jan. 18, 2015 8:36 a.m.

    Mr. Smith sounds like an amazing person, and teacher, but this article fails to address the most obvious question.

    Average teachers in Utah make around 50k per year, and talented electrical engineers average well over 100k per year. In a culture that equates money with respect (and free speech) why has Craig chosen to leave tens of thousands of dollars on the table each year to be a teacher?

    That's the question I would like this article to answer.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Jan. 18, 2015 12:15 a.m.

    Thanks for a great article! It's nice to hear about good things teachers are doing...