After five years at the school, mathematics teacher Timothy Behan is leaving the community to begin the next chapter of his career. Having studied math and science at Monmouth University, Behan is pursuing opportunities in healthcare.
Behan applied for the open position at the school after receiving his Master’s Degree in teaching. Behan’s application and interview process took place following the end of the 2017 school year; in addition to an interview, Behan was asked to conduct a demonstration lesson, which also took place after the end of the school year. Department Chair Charles Worrall managed to group together an entire class of students a week after summer began, Behan said. “That would probably be pretty hard to manage at some places, and I felt that it was indicative of the school environment and the nature of the students.”
Worrall decided to give Behan more difficult material for his lesson, and was impressed by Behan’s enthusiasm in embracing the challenge of learning and mastering something new, Worrall said.
Worrall taught Honors Geometry with Behan for the first time this school year, Worrall said. “[Behan has] spent enormous amounts of time and energy outside of school this year discovering ideas for himself, finding his own ways of seeing complex and beautiful math, and then thinking through how to use those experiences to create a fantastic geometric journey for his students.”
Behan has taught every grade level throughout his time at the school, including Geometry for four years, he said.
The combinatorics portion of pre-calculus is one of Behan’s favorite units to teach, because it can be approached from multiple angles. “I find it so exciting that you can look at the same problem in two totally different ways and arrive at the same result. Many problems also allow you to prove interesting coincidences and come across odd relationships,” he said.
The rigor of the school’s education initially stood out the most to Behan, he said. After attending several schools as a student, it is evident that the motivation within the school’s students to learn and grow is incomparable, he said. As a teacher, the ultimate aim is to learn and grow along with the students, he said. More than any previous learning environment, Behan feels that students often push him to think about concepts in a new or deeper way.
In addition to teaching math, Behan has advised the Mock Trial club for the past year, and enjoys watching the club compete and prepare their arguments. Having participated in a similar form of debate as a student, advising the club brings back his childhood memories of having mental breakthroughs when building cases, he said.
Small moments that Behan enjoys include the senior reflections, which is a unique way that the school allows departing students to share their experiences, he said. “Hearing what the students here have to say about their personal experiences is amazing as a teacher, because in the classroom, you don’t necessarily know what struggles they may be going through.”
Behan learned much more about himself as a teacher and classroom values during the pandemic, he said. In retrospect, he is impressed that the community was able to make it through together and make the most of the situation, he said. “I would begin my classes with asking a question of the day on Zoom, since I felt that it was a nice moment with the class and building community,” he said. “I learned the value of being present in a community, because [the school] initially started with asynchronous assignments that were much less effective than being in the room together.”
Behan is moving to Madison, Wisconsin and will be working at Epic Systems, a Healthcare Software company, he said. Many students were surprised that his new profession was not school-related, however, Behan believes that he can utilize his teaching experience while at Epic Systems. “I’m going to be assisting other people with technology, so it feels like I’m exercising a similar skill set,” he said. “It will be different, but I’m excited for the change.”