Tyler Espey – Helping Kids Embrace Math and School
Tyler Espey came to Camelot Education’s Buehrle Academy soon after graduating from West Chester University. He applied and a position was open for a math teacher. It was a position he accepted and has been teaching mathematics there now for three years.
Espey, who was chosen as the academy’s Teacher of the Year for 2016, says he believes it’s his special rapport with his students that conferred that award to him. He teaches students from the seventh through twelfth grades. None of them come into his classes expressing their love of the subject.
But that invariably changes, he said. “Students in this program have experienced many different disciplinary violations,” he said. “So many that they were removed from their home campuses. None of them come to me saying math is their favorite subject. But I work to build a rapport with them and to make it not just interesting but fun for them. One of my greatest satisfactions comes from seeing them excel in mathematics; to see the lights in their eyes when they finally get it. Some return for a visit when they leave to let me know they loved the way I teach the subject.
I give it to them in such a way as they want to be in math class. I take special pride in that.”
Espey said the students that come to him aren’t necessarily falling behind on their grades. Some arrive at Buehrle Academy because of fighting, or excessive absences or cutting classes. Some of them have shoved their teachers.
“It’s so crucial to build a rapport with these kids; to let them know they can talk to you about what’s bothering them; whatever it might be,” he said. “The goal is to help them understand they can advance and learn and become respectable young adults; that they can handle their problems without blowing up at someone.”
One female student came to Buehrle from her home campus that had never been in a regular mathematics class – always at a remedial level. The frustration was clearly evident with any interaction with her.
“She was closed off. She’d been sent to us for fighting and often tried to get out of class. But it was because she was embarrassed and didn’t want anyone to know she was having trouble handling the work,” Espey said. “It took a while, but over time she began to answer questions and eventually she did a complete one-eighty. It was a vast improvement; not just in her ability to handle the class but in her overall behavior. That’s why we do what we do; to help these kids.”