CNCC teacher aspires to help students have happy life
Editor’s Note: This is the latest article in an ongoing series that seeks to honor and understand more about educators in Moffat County.
CRAIG — Mathematics isn’t as challenging as growing up was for one local teacher, who draws on his own experience to help his students.
“I had to work hard for everything I have,” said Colorado Northwestern Community College math instructor Jesse LaRose. “I grew up poor; neither of my parents graduated high school, and I was the first LaRose to graduate college.”
The Craig Press recently caught up with LaRose to learn who inspired him to teach, one of the surprising ways he uses coaching in the classroom and how he’s breaking tradition to make math meaningful.
Craig Press: Who most influenced you to become an educator, and how did that person influence you?
Jesse LaRose: My fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Thorne, because she believed in me when many did not; she refused to let me slide under the radar, and most of all, she held me accountable to myself.
CP: Describe when you learned teaching is what you were meant to do?
LaRose: I knew early on that I needed to be a teacher. I wanted to be someone’s Mrs. Thorne. I wanted to be the catalyst to someone earning a happy life.
CP: If your greatest supporter were in the room today, what five words would he or she use to describe you as a person, a teacher or a colleague?
LaRose: Passionate, determined, dedicated, kind and understanding
CP: In your experience, what is the most challenging part of your role as an educator, and how have you met that challenge?
LaRose: As math instructors, the greatest hurdle we must overcome is the fear our students have of mathematics. I find myself coaching perseverance as much as I teach math.
CP: What have you read recently that led you to change your approach to your work?
LaRose: I read the news, and I am constantly seeing reports of American students being non-proficient in math. I feel that it is my calling, as an ambassador of mathematics, to change this. We should be better as a country in the subject that is the base knowledge for many of the best paying and most needed jobs in the world.
CP: If a visitor came to your classroom and took a photo, what would he or she see in that photo?
LaRose: A visitor in one of my classrooms would see an engaged teacher who cares about his students and is willing to adjust to their needs. The students would be putting in work to get better, and this would be obvious to any observer.
CP: How are you breaking tradition?
LaRose: I am not your classic college professor that lectures, gives tests and walks away for the students to fend for themselves. I am willing to spend the time to remediate struggling students, to help them get better. The most important concept I try to convey to my students is that it is OK to fail; it is not OK to give up.
CP: What is one fun fact about you?
LaRose: I am a single dad of three amazing babes. It is their spirit and love that remind me that I have chosen the correct career path.