CSMCE | Profiles
New Teacher Network, NebraskaMATH
Secondary Mathematics Teacher
Crete Public Schools
As a teacher and an athletics coach, Tony Jacobsen has found his philosophies for approaching this work to be similar: the best teachers and coaches are the best learners.
“If you progressively work to learn more about what you do, then you will find success,” said Jacobsen, a New Teacher Network teacher who graduated with his Master of Arts for Teachers degree (MAT) in August 2015. “I have really appreciated the opportunity through the New Teacher Network to take classes and advance my knowledge of mathematics at an affordable rate.”
After teaching for three years at Central City High School, Jacobsen is now at Crete High School, teaching Calculus, Pre-Calculus and Pre-Algebra. He uses materials and problems from his graduate courses at UNL to challenge his students, whether that’s by adapting the problems to the current level of the student or leaving them as “challenge problems.”
Jacobsen also is a firm believer in using GeoGebra in his classroom.
“At Crete, I have made it a personal goal to have all of my students use GeoGebra at some point in time throughout the year. Most of my Calculus students prefer it when learning a new topic so they can see the concept occurring as opposed to taking definitions and doing examples. The win-win of this is that they will still do homework but have a better hold of the concepts visually,” said the Laurel, Nebraska, native.
On the sporting front, Jacobsen and Crete coach Jordan Cudney have started a performance club for the middle school athletes to help them prepare for high school athletics.
“It is a good time away from the classroom to connect with students on an entirely different level,” Jacobsen said.
While math was his favorite subject in high school, he admits he decided to become a teacher late in the game.
“Combine working with others, the love I had for math in high school, and my passion for sports and coaching, and teaching became a natural fit,” he said. “I was a late bloomer in the education world. I did not declare my major as math education until my sophomore year of college but still managed to graduate in four years and haven’t looked back.”
Jacobsen said his favorite part of New Teacher Network was working with other math teachers throughout the state, including his mentors Shelby Aaberg of Scottsbluff High School who was the 2015 Nebraska Teacher of the Year, and Jason Vitosh of Falls City High School who are both Noyce Master Teaching Fellows.
“Working with other teachers has proven to be both a humbling and opportunistic experience,” Jacobsen said. “You think that you understand math and are at the top of your game, then someone shows you an easier way to solve a problem.”
With a future goal to teach a GeoGebra course to his peers, Jacobsen aspires to lead his district in mathematics education and feels confident in doing so after his New Teacher Network experience.
“I personally appreciate math more now than ever because I have a much deeper understanding of it, and I credit that to the opportunities the New Teacher Network has offered me.”