by Teddy Siker
This year OES has two new teachers who came to the school after years of teaching at the college level.
Gregory Drugan, who prefers to be called Dr. Drugan, has a PhD in math from the University of Washington and previously taught at University of Oregon; Gowri Meda has a PhD in math from Bryn Mawr College and previously taught at Colorado College. They both made the difficult decision to switch to teaching high school.
College is much different than high school. Adults and teenagers attend university, but only kids attend high school. College students tend to be much more independent, simply due to their being older. At college, you are required to write a final thesis, and classes can take place on weekends. Private colleges are also more expensive than private high schools – even OES. To find out more, I asked Dr. Drugan (who happens to be my math teacher) and Gowri some tough questions about the transition.
My first question for Dr. Drugan was what he thought was the largest benefit of switching to high school. His response, “I get to work with each student individually, something I could never do at college. If any student needs to meet with me, I have the time, because I’m not constantly researching like I was at college.”
Another positive result of the switch has to do with energy. Dr. Drugan told me that researching drained him of his energy, and because he no longer is required to research on top of teaching, he can focus more on his classes. “This has led me to become a more thoughtful and overall better teacher,” he told me. He also noted that the one-on-one aspect he gets with high school students has taught him a lot about how to teach. However, the switch has its negative features as well: Drugan told me he misses teaching more complicated subjects and a larger variety of classes rather than just algebra and calculus.
When I asked Gowri about the difference of teaching high school, she told me, “ I cover the topics at a much slower pace in high school than I did in college. I work with a more hands-on approach and I have more in-class activities at the high school level.” Gowri also mentioned that she sometimes participates in the flipped classroom style, where students take notes at home and work in class.
One way Gowri is different from Dr. Drugan is that she homeschooled her children for three years. This could play a role in how she teaches, since she has different experiences with all ages of children, and can adapt to any age needed. The biggest surprise for Gowri in the switch is how excited high schoolers are. She says college students prefer to say quiet most of the time.
Overall, both Dr. Drugan and Gowri like the switch to OES. They say it has been positive for their career and life, and that OES students are academically strong. They both enjoy meeting with OES students one-on-one and helping those who struggle. I think both teachers are here to stay, and if you haven’t met them yet, be sure to stop in the math office and say hi.