Nothing brings me more pleasure than seeing a child progress from basic arithmetic to the superb algebra skills and excellent logical processing ability they possess when they graduate.”

Mike Black

Math
VDA Teacher since 2008

Tell me a little about your personal and educational background.

I grew up in Houston, TX, with my older brother and younger sister. As a child, I raced BMX bikes and surfed in competitions along the Gulf Coast. I have a B.S. in Mathematics from Texas A&M and an M.A. in Pure Mathematics from The University of California Santa Barbara.

When and why did you decide to become a teacher?

After I graduated with my Master's Degree, I got in a surfing accident. It was one of those experiences that causes you to reflect on where you are going and what you want to do, and I resolved to do something that would positively benefit my community. I think my aptitude and passion for math are a gift that needs to be shared.

If you specialize in a particular subject area, why did you choose that specialty?

Math is certain and simple. There is correct and incorrect, and it does not require instrumentation aside from something to write with and something to write on. That appeals to me. Aside from that, children form their aversion or their affinity for math in the elementary years, and grade 5 - 8 is such a critical time in the development of logical processing skills. I am honored to have the opportunity to influence both.

What brought you to VanDamme Academy?

After learning about the school and talking to Miss VanDamme, I had to see it for myself. I was immediately drawn to the culture of the school. We have families that value education, we have children hungry for knowledge, and we have instructors passionate about their fields.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love spending quality time with my family and watching my young daughters grow. I am also an avid surfer and dabbler in stained glass fabrication.

Do you have any favorite stories about your teaching experience?

Not so much a story, but rather a "what it's all about" tidbit. I teach 5th through 8th grade, and nothing brings me more pleasure than seeing a child progress from basic arithmetic to the superb algebra skills and excellent logical processing ability they possess when they graduate. I love seeing a child’s work and thinking, "Gee, that is a cleaver technique!”—and then realizing I was the one who taught them!