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Teacher of the Month: Bryan Passwater

Connecting the concepts in his AP® calculus class to students’ real lives is one of the keys to success for Lebanon High School teacher Bryan Passwater.

“It’s easier for the students to understand and connect with these concepts if they can relate it to something that’s real and tactical,” said Passwater, NMSI’s June Teacher of the Month.   

Passwater uses QR codes and other technology throughout his classroom to help drive home the complicated concepts his students are learning.

“There’s a science and an art to teaching,” Passwater said. “We learn a lot from research about how kids learn and how to be an effective teacher. But there’s also an art to teaching and not only being an effective teacher, but also being able to create a culture that students can grow and mature in.”

In addition to his classroom work in Indiana, Passwater also serves as a NMSI consultant, traveling across the country teaching other teachers to successfully implement NMSI strategies in the classroom and helping students prepare for their Advanced Placement® calculus exams.

“I really try to model what I am teaching to a classroom, whether it be students or teachers,” Passwater said. “I want everyone who I teach to realize that I am living by the NMSI philosophy and that I am not teaching one thing and doing another.”

For Passwater, watching his students mature over the course of high school has had the greatest impact on his career. He recalls a student from his first year of teaching, who he still keeps up with.

“I really connected with this young man because we shared similar backgrounds and you could really tell that had this ambition to do well in school and to go on and do something important with his life,” Passwater said. “He struggled his first two years in high school, but after I tutored him every day he was accepted into a program that allowed him to transfer into Indiana University after a year at a community college. We still keep in touch, he now has a very successful career in criminal law enforcement.”

Passwater said he wants his students to focus on taking the AP exam and stresses the importance of just taking the class to help better prepare them for college.

“By taking an AP class, students are more prepared for the challenges they’ll face in college and later on in life, especially if they’re interested in pursuing a career in a STEM field,” Passwater said.

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