New Teacher Spotlight: Matthew Sutherland

This school year, Conant has nine new teachers. Seeing as most students won’t be introduced to them in the typical way, the Crier is providing short features on each. Today, the Crier would like to introduce Matthew Sutherland from the Math department.

Kana Nagoya | Conant Crier

Crier: Do you have any hobbies?

Sutherland: My hobby is being active and doing something outdoors. I’m a big sports fan, and when I was in college a couple years ago, I played football and baseball. Even back in high school, I played football, basketball, and baseball.

Crier: Have you won any prizes for sports during high school or college?

Sutherland: In college, we went to the baseball college world series and finished in third place. For football, we made the division three playoffs three out of four years.

Crier: It seems like you really love sports, but why did you become a math teacher?

Sutherland: People who know me always assume that I was influenced by my mom and my dad who were teachers. However, the teachers that I had at my high school were the people who really made me the person I am now. They had that influence on me that made me enjoy coming to school and talking to them. They gave me the positive experience that every high schooler deserves and became a role model for me. I think it’s important that every student has someone to look up to besides their parents. I wanted to have that opportunity to be a role model for high schoolers and make their long high school days a little less long and more fun.

Crier: Why did you specifically choose to teach math?

Sutherland: That’s because math is awesome and I love teaching math. I understand that math is sometimes annoying, but it’s similar to what life is like. Sometimes it’s going really well and sometimes it’s bad. Kids in math classes get disappointed when they can’t solve the problems, but later get satisfied when they understand them. I think that when I help those kids make that antipathy a little bit more positive, they will get hope and be able to think they could turn things around even if they struggle with life.

Crier: You mentioned how some students have a negative attitude towards math. What about math would appeal to them and why do you think students should learn math?

Sutherland: The fun part about math is that students can learn so many valuable skills in a collaborative environment. Unlike when students write their own papers in English, they communicate with a partner and develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills in math. They can also bring home that knowledge and tell their parents what they’ve learned or apply the concept to the actual world. Students can prepare the skills they need for their future life or career through math classes and that’s what makes math special. It’s hard for students to understand that right now, but once they’re done with math, I hope they understand that. Also, the fact that there are many different ways to solve problems and you can be satisfied after solving those problems is another fun part of math.

Crier: What is one thing that you keep in mind when teaching students?

Sutherland: I try to think from the students’ perspective. I ask myself what the students are thinking, what I would be doing if I were them, and how I would want my teacher to be if I was in class. This allows me to think about the best way I can teach them and change up my teaching method when needed. Especially for freshmen, they’ve just started discovering how to learn using their iPad all at home where teachers are not there to help them right away. Just knowing how overwhelming that is, I try to be understanding of them.

Crier: If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be?

Sutherland: When I went to college, I didn’t know the specific subject but I was pretty set early on that I wanted to teach. However, if I weren’t a teacher, I would do any job that would help people. Examples could be like a social worker who helps people get out of tough situations. I’m satisfied with teaching though. As long as I’m helping people, that’s the job that I want.

Crier: Is there something that you’ve regretted through your high school experience? Do you have any advice for the students?

Sutherland: I wouldn’t say I regret anything from high school. I think everything that occurs in life happens for a reason. The advice I would give for students is don’t leave room for regret in high school. Go out and participate and get involved in school. There’s so many clubs, sports, and groups that you can be a part of that will help you connect more with the school community. There’s always a role for everybody. If you have that opportunity to participate, you have to do that to have a great experience in high school. I tried to get involved as much as I could in high school and had a great time. Also, always give your best regardless if it’s something you know that things will go bad. If you try your best, you’ll have no regrets.

Crier: Do you have any messages for the students?

Sutherland: I would say try your best. I know that the situation right now is not the most ideal, but it will get better. Stay positive, don’t be afraid to ask for help right now, and reach out to your teachers, parents, and friends. We’re all in this together. Also, try your best to persevere because we will get back into school one day and return back to normal. If you can get through this time, you can get through anything.

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