James Goehmann brought more than four decades of teaching experience, including nearly three decades as math department chair, when he joined the Upper School faculty at Morgan Park Academy this fall.
Mr. Goehmann teaches AP Calculus AB, honors pre-calculus, and honors geometry; leads an advisory group; sits on the Upper School’s Honor Council; and is a faculty moderator for our Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM) competition team.
He studied at the University of Chicago, where he earned a B.A. in mathematics and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I enjoy it when students succeed in mathematics beyond the level they thought they could achieve. I enjoy the sense of accomplishment that students get when they overcome difficult math topics, especially if they were anxious about their ability to handle those topics.
One of the challenging but rewarding aspects of my role as Director of Curriculum and Instruction is making sure that Morgan Park Academy students and teachers have the educational tools and resources they need for 21st-century teaching and learning.
This fall, we have been excited to debut two major improvements that have boosted our math curriculum for grades 3-12. The numbers at the core of mathematics haven’t changed, but the tools and approaches our teachers employ to convey this often-vexing subject are ever evolving.
The principals, teachers, curriculum leaders, and I dedicated a lengthy review last year to our textbook needs for math in grades 3-8. In analyzing several options, we found an amazing package from educational industry leader McGraw-Hill that aligned well with MPA’s approach to teaching and learning. It offers digital accessibility to the textbook and materials, allows teachers to customize content, and provides supplemental tutorials and resources online.
Please help us welcome Jessica Stephens, who joins the Morgan Park Academy faculty as a sixth-grade math and science teacher and sixth-grade advisor.
Mrs. Stephens has taught at both the middle school and high school level, teaching algebra, chemistry, biology, and seventh- and eighth-grade science.
She holds a B.A. from Princeton University, where she majored in psychology as a pre-medicine student.
What is the most important life lesson you want students to learn in your class?
I appreciate George Bernard Shaw’s quote that what is most important is seeing “the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.” I desire most that students learn the value of knowledge and the importance of pursuing truth. This life lesson will transform students into individual persons who set the intent to educate the self rather than passively awaiting another to dispense knowledge — only to be tempted to either instill such knowledge or carelessly discard it upon its false evaluation of its worth. Therefore, my hope is that in understanding the worth of knowledge and the pursuit of truth, one’s perspective will be the impetus in doing the former rather than the latter.
By Lizzie Patel ’21
Math has always been my favorite subject.
When I was getting ready to go into fifth grade, Mrs. Barnicle asked my dad if I would be interested in taking sixth-grade math, and he agreed without even needing to ask me, knowing that it would be something I would love.
So I was excited last year when Mrs. Scolan invited me to join the MPA group that was going to a local Middle School math competition. That weekend was an interesting one. I was a fifth-grade girl in a group of seventh- and eighth-grade boys, but I still had fun.
That day I met with Chicago’s smartest STEM kids and even took home second place in my group as an individual. That feeling — seeing my name flash up on the screen, hearing the cheers of my new teammates — was a sense of joy so great and so rewarding that I knew this was something I would always do.
Soon afterward, I tried out for a spot in a smaller group that would compete at the MATHCOUNTS regional competition. When we tested all I could think about was the other MPA students I was up against; most of them were in seventh and eighth grade. I thought that I had no chance.
I had to wait until the next morning to find out how I did, and a sense of dread filled me. I thought that there was no way I could be chosen to compete. And then something amazing happened: Mrs. Scolan called my name.
Lizzie Patel, the fifth-grader who sat quietly in the back of math class, was the last member of the team! I felt that same sensation again, that same feeling of pride and happiness. In that moment, I felt like I could do anything.