New Grass Range math teacher at home in Central Montana

By: 
Charlie Denison
Reporter

New Grass Range math teacher Mitch Thompson works on an equation Monday in his classroom. Originally from Plains, Montana, Thompson said he is enjoying his first year at Grass Range.
Photo by Charlie Denison

Grass Range’s new math teacher, Mitch Thompson, is having fun.

It’s his goal, he said, for the students to have a good time, too.

That’s easier said than done, as math isn’t exactly everyone’s idea of a good time. However, Thompson is doing his best to keep it interesting, and he does this by trying to shake things up a little.

“I would not say I have a traditional curriculum,” he said. “The students work on problems and I steer them in the right direction as they learn. Most of what they work on has more of a real-world focus. It’s more scenario-based.”

Thompson teaches Math 1, Math 2, Math 3 and Math 4.

“It’s all integrated,” he said. “Algebra, geometry, statistics, probability and even some calculus is involved.”

Instead of keeping the students at their desks all period, Thompson tries to make the class interactive by doing some hands-on experiments.

“Recently I made a golf ball ramp that the students used to see how the height and length of the ramp would affect the time it would take the golf ball to roll,” Thompson said. “They came up with a pattern and plotted their data on the graph to see what it would look like. Then they came up with a formula that would model that data.”

The Plains, Montana resident is just starting his teaching career, and he’s encouraged with how the year has gone so far.

“I’m liking it,” he said. “I especially like doing the experiments so the students can see what’s going on and then learn the math behind it.”

Some students are really clicking with it, Thompson said, and some need some “prodding,” but overall the students have been great, as has the administration.

“The administration is very supportive, calm and collective,” he said. “It’s been great here.”

A graduate of Montana University-Western in Dillon, Thompson originally wanted to become a PE teacher, but he always enjoyed math. After tutoring students in math at Western, he started thinking maybe teaching the subject was a good way to go.

“I enjoy trying to figure things out,” he said. “It’s a good subject for me, so things just worked well for me.”

Getting a job in Grass Range is especially fortunate, Thompson said, as his wife, Kylie, is originally from Winnett, and her family still has a cattle ranch there.

“Kylie is glad to be closer to family and I’m happy to be here, as well,” Thompson said. “We can see being here permanently.”

But, right now, just a few weeks into his first semester, Thompson is taking it one day at a time, and each day he enjoys getting to know the students and the community better.

“It’s a good community,” he said, “with good kids. For the most part they seem to be doing pretty well.”

 

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