Walter wins county award


Photo by Dellanira Alcauter

Senior Jannetha Thon gets help from math teacher Andrew Walter with antiderivatives in AP Calculus.

Math teacher Andrew Walter walks from table to table answering questions. It doesn’t matter that he has already answered the question twice before. He calmly sits next to the puzzled student and answers his question for the third time, but in different way. His face lights up with excitement as he finally understands the material and Walter praises him for his effort to do so.

“He’s the kind of teacher that pushes you towards the next level to succeed and is really caring towards his students’ education,” junior Gabriel Zuniga said. “He has this way of explaining (math) that is clearer than what the books says. He brings it down to our level.”

Walter is the third Stagg teacher in three years to be awarded with the Cortopassi Family Foundation Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching award. To qualify for the award a teacher must be nominated by their principal and submit two letters of recommendation. Only one math teacher and one science teacher from each school can qualify.

“I don’t know of any other schools that have had this many people win it, so that just says a lot for Stagg itself,” Walter said. “Where people always look down on Stagg, it’s kind of nice to know we have multiple teachers who are winning these awards.” He said the only downside is this award could easily be won by English and social studies teachers, but there is no award for it.

While Walter finds it nice get to be recognized, he is most excited about the prize money, the $5,000 that will go to him and the $5,000 that will go toward buying equipment that will help the school. He just recently sat down with his MESA class and asked them to brainstorm ideas on where to spend the money.

“We are looking at potentially buying laptops, 3D printers, and just things that would be on their wish list,” he said. “If I could have something that would make their education better then that is what I’m going to spend it on. To me it’s more about them having what they need than me, because I have enough toys and gadgets already.”

Many of Walter’s student enjoy taking his class due to his humor and how much he cares for his students.

“He’s funny and he uses it when he teaches,” senior Anthony Nichols said. “It’s very amusing and it actually makes the material interesting and makes us want to learn.”

They also appreciate how he is always willing to help even if it doesn’t pertain to his class.

“I had trouble switching my classes because my counselor would not allow me to and he helped me get the class I need,” freshman Perla Gonzalez said.

Fellow math teacher Kathy Sady not only finds Walter an excellent teacher, but a valued colleague. She finds him to be just an “all around good guy” and admires his ability to help people.

“He’s knowledgable and it’s his life goal to share that knowledge,” she said. “He never makes me feel inferior when I go to him with my dumb questions. It’s really a good relationship to have with someone you work with.”

Along with winning the Cortopassi Award, Walter is up for two other awards. The first is the Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practices and the second is the Presidential Award for Math and Science. Winning awards for him is not about the cash prize but being ranked highly as an educator.

“A lot of the awards aren’t like a normal job where you get an award and you get higher pay or promoted,” Walter said. “You just do it because it makes you know that you are pushing yourself to be the best you can possibly can.”

The award process has also provided him with a chance to reflect on his teaching in order to become a stronger teacher.

“When I first started teaching, people would ask what do I teach,” he said. “And I would say, ‘Well, I teach math.’ Now my response is, ‘I teach students, and then math is just my conduit.’ Math is just the only way I know how to teach them.”