By: Sofya Shatalova
If you’re a senior at Design Tech, you’re in luck. Nathan Pierce, the just-hired English teacher, is on a mission to use innovative neuroscience to change the way you learn.
Nathan Pierce has lived in Southern California most of his life. Pierce is not a freshly-minted rookie, he’s been a teacher for 16 years. He has taught a variety of students, mostly high schoolers, but also 7th graders and adults as well. His approach to teaching has always been different.
At his old school, tried to incorporate some new aspects of teaching style during one of his get-togethers with different teachers from nearby counties. They decided to revamp the English curriculum with new ways of studying and relevant reading material. However, the counties involved cancelled the proposition. Instead, they turned to the ERWC program (Expository Reading and Writing Course), which involved using packets with minimum teacher involvement. Pierce wanted to use his methods to make the learning experience great for the students, and he believes that students should have a say in how they learn. He left the Southern California school and applied for a new job.
One of the new job applications was for d.tech. Pierce’s interest in d.tech started with the unique curriculum that the school offers, such as how students build their own schedules.
Ken Montgomery, executive director of d.tech, was excited to have Pierce on staff. He said that Pierce “looked into the school and was interested in what we were doing.” Pierce’s teaching methods are deeply rooted in the Principles of Gaming, a practice which uses gaming mechanics, things like leveling up to represent progression in the class, to engage students in their learning experience. He said it’s important to engross the students, make them care about what they are learning, and reward their efforts. “It’s like leveling up in a game,” Pierce said. “Why would you do something over the same way?” It’s essential to tailor the learning experience to each student.
Lessley Anderson, the English teacher for the 11th grade and Writer’s Workshop class for 12th graders, mentioned that she is excited to have an experienced teacher on the staff this year. “Pierce had 16 years worth of different combinations of students he’s work with,” she explained. “He’ll know what to do.” Anderson met Pierce during his interview, bonding with him over swing and couples dancing. She described it as one of those moments that occur randomly. She works closely with Pierce and, besides the assignments, their curriculum is similar to each others. She described him as very hardworking and passionate about his job.
Pierce has a vision for this school. He will take it to a new level and provide a memorable experience for his students, with them using it to better themselves in the ongoing years.