Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. Compean

MRS. COMPEAN teaching Calculus, bringing two decades of teaching experience into the classroom. Anthony Wu

By Anthony Wu | Head Editor

October 1st, 2022

“I love seeing math click on students’ faces,” Mrs. Compean said, “and if I can cause one person to have that “Aha!” moment every day, it’s worth every minute I plan.”

Despite being a math teacher for almost twenty years, Mrs. Compean is continually reinventing her classroom. As a teacher for AP Calc, her class is filled with the school’s most intelligent and dedicated students. But the impression you’d get from her class would likely harken back to memories of elementary school.

As opposed to the typical drudgery of hour-long notes followed with worksheets, Mrs. Compean brings a twist to her teaching. In class, students are standing up at white boards, talking and collaborating, and leveraging their collective brainpower to deduce the concepts themselves with their own creativity.

Alongside her unique classroom, Mrs. Compean further carries an inspiring and enduring enthusiasm for teaching with a continual smile that radiates within her class, and her frequent off-topic and personal remarks, usually about her husband, add a degree of levity and spontaneity.

To better understand her motivations and inspirations for teaching, I took a moment to speak with Mrs. Comepan and asked a couple questions about her life, her past, and her class:

Who was your biggest influence on becoming a teacher?

“Mrs. Perkins, my geometry teacher here as a freshman, was very energetic and cared a ton about her students. She really believed in who I was, and I wanted to do better because of her.”

What makes you get up out of bed every morning?

“I love seeing math click on students’ faces, and if I can cause one person to have that “Aha!” moment everyday, it’s worth every minute I plan. You’d think that after teaching for almost twenty years that I’ve got it down, but I feel like because I’ve been making all these changes to how I teach to get students to think more, that it really makes me develop my questions and materials which takes a long time to prepare.”

Could you give me an outline on the new teaching experiment going on this year?

“The way that I was taught mathematics was by watching the teacher do a bunch of problems and then doing problems on our own and then taking a test. There was no collaboration. Over the summer, I read this book called “Building Thinking Classrooms,” and it was about how now, being in such a different place in the world, we want students to be able to collaborate with each other. If you as a group can help each other and work, you’ll be able to understand the material that much more. It’s a better way of teaching because kids are doing more of the thinking instead of the teacher telling the kids how to think.”

Has it been tried elsewhere?

“Yes. So Canada is where the author of the book is from and he has been doing this research for probably fifteen to twenty years now. So he has a lot of ideas, one being having kids stand up at white boards. If they’re standing up and communicating, they’re all engaged in the idea as opposed to sitting where they’re in that passive role where they don’t think. Having one marker between the groups also makes them use their words to get their ideas across. Random grouping, so you’re not stuck with one person, teaches students to get ideas from everyone. It’s been widely successful with other teachers who’ve done it for a long time, but since it’s my first year, I still feel like I have a lot of improvements to make.”

What type of activities do you do outside of school?

“I love playing pickleball, exercising, hanging out with my husband, my kids, and my dog. We go to church. My kids play lots of soccer, and I always cheer them on.”

As a teacher, Mrs. Compean has always been unflinchingly supportive of her students, and her twenty-year dedication to the wellbeing and education of her students is an extraordinary mark of accomplishment and ought to be a source of immense satisfaction and fulfillment. Unfortunately, there’s also a cost for doing too well in her class, as I have been barred from holding the marker in the future.

Thank you Mrs. Compean, for your tireless devotion to education.

2 Comments on Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. Compean

  1. What an amazing teacher, wish more teachers would share the joy of learning! God bless you Mrs Compean!!!

  2. Mrs. Compean is a fantastic teacher and the skills I obtained through her class continue to help me in college. Great article Anthony!

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