January 7, 2018

More Than a Teacher

Michael Lurie ‘21

If you asked a student how they might improve school, an answer might include removing textbooks, getting rid of unnecessary testing, or not having to listen to long lectures. Mr. Huseman, the new Science chair and STEM teacher, although not quite as extreme, is taking long strides in the direction of that perfect classroom.
A double major in Physics and Mathematics from Drew University, Huseman was hired to fill the obviously needed science chair position and to also offer diversity within the STEM program.
“The school believes that having a variety of teachers for students to interact with,” Principal Ms. Stodolski said, “is an important aspect of any discipline.”
Huseman is no stranger to holding both a supervisory position and teaching a class. Being one of the founders of Harvest Collegiate High School in Manhattan, he has had the opportunity to focus on the logistics of curriculum and schedules and to work closely to help teachers, a job he says he sometimes enjoys more than teaching students themselves.
“I wasn’t necessarily looking to teach somewhere else,” he said. “I was looking to do more than teach somewhere else.”
Huseman’s closest collaboration with teachers, however, is through the STEM program. He says he is extremely lucky working alongside Dr. Kalmanovich because of her enthusiasm and high qualifications.
“She’s very passionate, not just about the topic,” he said, “but how the students are actually fighting through each challenge.”
Although having two teachers working together in the same classroom is a different experience for him, he said he believes it actually makes each class better.
“Every class would benefit from having two people involved,” he said. “I’ve never seen a situation where two fully-collaborating people don’t improve a product.”
He also appreciates the ability to bounce ideas about improving the class off one another, allowing changes to be made faster. Looking at how students react to the same program across grades allows for improvement that would normally take years to be condensed into weeks.
Being hired at GOA gave him exactly what he was looking for, as he helps create classes and curriculums for STEM and Science as well as teach classes in both subjects. Both his middle school and high school students give rave reviews.
“Mr. Huseman is a great teacher because he’s very interactive,” eighth grader Yoni Artz said. “He’s more of a hands-on kind of person which makes Science class much more fun.”
Almost every day in Science class the students have a lab demonstrating what they are learning instead of only discussing it.
His freshman STEM class agreed with Artz’s thoughts.
“He doesn’t care about the grades so much,” Kayla Blecherman said, “but more your understanding and he really reflects that in the way he teaches.”
The STEM students also believe that his style of letting the students teach themselves will help them later in life when they will not have a teacher delivering them information.
Huseman’s love for STEM specifically may be a cause of his unique and enthusiastic teaching style.
“It is a great place for kids to learn what it means to be an engineer and to solve… big problems,” he said. “I think the freedom you have is great. Even having the responsibility to get things and put them away is really important.”
This appreciation for freedom is one of Huseman’s main values as a teacher.
“I believe it is important for me to give [students] as much responsibility as possible,” he said.
He believes the responsibility of learning is on the students, the teacher is simply there to present the right environment and to be a guide.
His second main value as a teacher is his willingness to allow a second try.
“I’m very willing to have limited success with things,” he said.
Unlike many teachers, Huseman allows for full retakes of exams if students are unsatisfied with a grade.
“I think a lot of people are very reluctant to do something where either success isn’t guaranteed or success is ill-defined,” he said.
Although  Huseman claims this style of teaching is not unique, it is certainly new to Golda Och Academy. Huseman’s focus on independence and students’ understanding rather than simply giving information is looked forward to by almost all students in his classes.

“It’s very comfortable to lecture and then give a test, to lecture and then give a test and the teacher has all of the control in the world,” he said. “I don’t want control, because I already know the material. It’s not about me.”

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