Thomas Brown, Hawthorne Valley’s High School Math & Science Teacher, is on a quest to change society’s perception of math.
“People don’t realize the importance of the way math is taught,” he said. “Everyone can do math, but it has to be presented in a way each individual understands and it has to mean something to them.”
Tom began tutoring his peers as a high school student in the Bronx, and his love of teaching has continued throughout his life and informed his vocation as a teacher.
“I love seeing that ‘Aha!’ moment,” he said. “No matter the class, to see students get it and to help them see and understand is such a good feeling.”
He received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a M.S. in Martial Arts. Tom first came to the Berkshires over 20 years ago to start a camp for martial arts, which he has been a practitioner of since childhood. While that camp didn’t pan out, he liked the area so much that he decided to stay.
For over 20 years, he has run a martial arts studio in Great Barrington, MA, and taught math and science at the Kolburne School, Kildonan School, and, briefly, at the Berkshire Waldorf School and Berkshire High School.
Tom came to Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School from Kildonan, where he taught for many years and instituted a 1:1 math tutoring program to help students understand and connect with math subjects.
“I felt very welcome coming to Hawthorne Valley as my first full-time Waldorf experience,” he said. “The community here is very open and welcoming.”
Tom leads math classes for all the high school grades and Main Lessons in areas such as thermodynamics, probability, and mechanics. He looks forward to helping build out Hawthorne Valley High School’s math program by focusing on improving the skills of individual students through in-depth study that he believes will help all students, not just those who chose to pursue STEM fields.
In his teaching, Tom encourages his students to work towards positive change. Whether he’s teaching a math class or Taekwondo, he strives to teach in such a way that helps his students develop their confidence and voice.
“Everyone needs to look forward because otherwise we become stagnant,” he said. “If students are looking to the future and working to improve themselves or their fields, then I believe they will be successful.”