Voices from Wildwood Educators
Dov Rohan - Math
Caleb Peretz with one of his gyr
Wildwood 2021/22 Math Program
A student recently asked me, “Dov, is it true that if you fold a piece of paper in half 42 times it will reach the moon?” The class went silent, curious to hear my response. I asked everyone to take out a piece of paper and try. And so began our interactive, exciting, and engaging introduction to exponents. I have found that if I let the students help lead the class with their curiosity and interest, they are much more likely to retain the information we need to cover throughout the year. I am excited and honored to be teaching math with Caleb Peretz next year at Wildwood Academy. I would like to take this opportunity to briefly share with you some of my past life experiences and my plans for the math department moving forward here at Wildwood Academy.
I grew up in Santa Cruz, California. My parents were both educators for 35 years and helped start the private school I attended from preschool through twelfth grade. I graduated valedictorian and went to undergraduate school at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo for aerospace engineering and physics. Alongside my studies, I had the opportunity to play collegiate volleyball, perform as a beatboxer for the acapella group Take It SLO, perform as a dancer with the college dance company Orchesis, and volunteer as a “Week Of Welcome” leader responsible for supporting groups of incoming freshmen. Graduating with a B.S. degree in physics, I worked for a few years on ocean optics experiments in Avila Bay, California. I designed, built, and tested ocean optical instrumentation for measuring phytoplankton patterns directly impacting climate change. I co-authored a scientific paper on my research and traveled to Boulder, Colorado and Berkeley, California to give talks on my research at LIDAR conferences. I followed an opportunity that moved me to Los Angeles, California to work as a music producer and singer-songwriter for a few years. I backpacked through Central America, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia and became a scuba diving instructor. Over the past decade I have taught and certified over 200 people, ages 15 through 80. I built my own 2 story addition to a guest house along with many other construction projects. I designed and built reclaimed rainwater systems for agricultural projects. I studied Ayurveda medicine and became an Ayurvedic Health Counselor. I taught as a substitute for middle school math and science for a number of years and for a decade I led middle school groups into nature to bond with each other and learn about the interconnectedness we share with our environment. Together with my wife, I moved to Hood River in 2017 and started a family. I started teaching at Wildwood Academy in January 2020.
Cal Poly has a motto “Learn By Doing”. College students build things and grow things to strengthen their learning. Following this philosophy, I try to teach, lead by example, and guide
learning by incorporating as many real-world experiences as possible. Now, I see student interest in math deepen with every interactive lesson I share. I witness student curiosity grow as the number of group problem-solving challenges are introduced. I believe wholeheartedly that student success is directly related to the amount of time they are able to “play” with math. It will be my job to make sure that each student is met at their individual current ability level and grows to learn as much as possible at the speed that is best suited for them. Small class sizes make this possible.
Now, a few specifics about the math program for next year:
As many of you may know, Eric Cohn will not be joining our team of educators next year. He has been an inspiration to countless students over the last 30+ years and I am grateful for the time I was able to spend with him. I hope to continue to keep alive his sense of joy, laughter, and deep concern for the wellbeing of each of his students.
“I have enjoyed my two years at Wildwood Academy immensely, both professionally and personally. A big part of this has been Dov Rohan who has been an absolute joy to work with. Besides having an impressive math background, he brings a sensibility, practical application, and sensitivity to what is sometimes a difficult topic for young learners.” - Eric Cohn
Caleb Peretz and I are not only mathematicians but educators of science and physics. Caleb has a B.S. degree in Plant Science from UC Davis and a very impressive understanding of most sciences and can teach math at a high level. He’s also very familiar with place-based education having taught middle graders at The Redwood Adventist Academy and The Farm School. Our math classes will be taught in the classroom and then applied during hands-on group project learning. We will be teaching together and our student-to-teacher ratio will be 7 to 1 ensuring that our students receive a significant amount of individual attention. Our class sizes will be no larger than fourteen students.
In addition to teaching from more traditional math textbooks like our Addison-Wesley and College of the Redwoods collection, we’re investing in The Art of Problem Solving. This is a leading-edge program that not only provides a traditional math textbook and curriculum, but substantial resources to support students such as a visual learning module, online tutorials and videos, and even online classes and tutors. This is a great supplemental solution for students who are more visual or text-based learners. In addition to these resources, we will have access to other physical and digital materials that will help us meet the needs of each student.
Our classroom assessment model (i.e. report cards) will be somewhat traditional as students will be quizzed and tested and given a percentage level (for instance, an 80% on a test) so they are prepared for future programs. However, students will be assessed at their level and ability so we can focus on their improvement and abilities rather than getting compared to the class as a whole. As an example, a 67% is not a “D”...it means the student has learned two-thirds of the material presented. It is our job as educators to review and re-teach them that final third so they have a strong foundation on all topics covered throughout the year.
Our math department will meet the standard minimum requirements of completing pre-algebra by the end of 8th grade. However, we are prepared to move at a much quicker pace for those ready for the challenge. Students will be grouped not by age but by ability levels. Students will be able to shift from one class to another throughout the year if their needs change for either a quicker or slower pace of learning. Students will be prepared for high school.
We will integrate large topics like geometry, probability, and statistics into our Foundations, Pre-Algebra, and Algebra classes at times that make the most sense.
Guest speakers from the business and financial world will provide real-world examples of how math is used in real estate and business (while we teach these concepts in the classroom). We’ll also interview architects, engineers, aviators, and other professionals and learn how math is utilized in their respective fields.
Finally, students will apply math learned in the classroom on Artisan Mondays and on Outdoor Science Intensives. Our students will be challenged in ways they can learn to love math and grow their confidence in the subject. They will have time in class to work together and help each other learn. I look forward to the opportunity to learn alongside each and every student next year at Wildwood Academy.
Sincerely, Dov Rohan