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Morris math teacher receives Inspiring Teacher Award

Published: Friday, April 25, 2014 9:42 p.m. CST
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(Heidi Litchfield – hlitchfield@shawmedia.com)
Ryan Tripp teaches Algebra 2 to Morris Community High School students.

MORRIS – Shain Hennessy, a sophomore at Morris Community High School, said her math teacher goes the extra mile.

“Some people struggle in class,” said Hennessy, who is in Ryan Tripp’s Honors Algebra 2 class at the high school. “If you ask him, you can stay after class or come in early for help, especially on test days.”

Tripp said he puts in extra time with the students, because he expects so much from them that he feels it’s only fair he helps them as much as he can.

“I give them 80 percent and encourage them to figure out what they are trying to do. It’s more meaningful if it’s something they have to think about,” Tripp said. “I have to be realistic, I have to give them more of my time for them to be successful.”

Tripp, a first-year teacher at Morris, is the recipient of an Inspiring Teacher Award, bestowed by Texas Instruments in partnership with the Metropolitan Mathematics Club of Chicago. He was nominated by his colleague Craig Ortiz.

“Although this is just his first year, Mr. Tripp already has many attributes of an excellent veteran teacher,” Ortiz said in a news release from the school. “His questioning techniques, his ability to explain problems from multiple perspectives, and his emphasis on number sense and critical thinking skills are among his strengths. Continuing his own education is very important to him and will help him develop into an even better teacher. We are so fortunate to have someone with his knowledge, dedication and vision on our faculty.”

Tripp was one of 10 teachers chosen from the greater Chicago area. In order to be considered for this award, teachers must have no more than five years of experience and must demonstrate excellence and dedication in the classroom.

Teaching math was not the goal Tripp had in mind when he left Sandwich, where he grew up, and headed off to the University of Illinois where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in architectural studies.

“I graduated in 2008 during the recession, it was the worst time to graduate with that degree,” he said.

But he realized the part of architecture he liked wasn’t the designing. It was the engineering and the math involved.

Having spent some of his time at University of Illinois running study groups for other students who needed help with engineering, he realized he found success in helping others.

He then went to Eastern Illinois University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics and graduated in May of last year. He was endorsed for teaching grades sixth through 12th.

He spent his student teaching time at Arcola Junior High and knew he wanted to teach either sixth grade or high school.

“In middle school, you can help develop mathematics understanding,” he said. “In high school, it’s nice to work with more applications.”

As a first-year teacher at Morris High School, he is hoping to not only inspire the students, but also the teachers.

“I hope I’m inspiring the teachers I work with,” Tripp said. “I hope they find [me to be] someone [who] can come with new fresh ideas.

He said his fellow teachers have given him a lot and he wants to work with more of them to give back.

Principal Kelly Hussey said Tripp is a unique first-year teacher, having degrees in both architecture and math.

“Students can see the real life possibilities of using math, or be inspired to use math in the real world,” Hussey said. “We’re encouraged by what he brings to math classes.”

Inspiring Teacher Award winners were announced in March, and Tripp will be recognized at a dinner in May.

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