At an all-boys Catholic high school two weeks before Christmas, 18 students arrive early to class—a Calculus class, no less. Their teacher: Kevin Moore, a 2012 Immaculata Education alumnus and Math teacher at Malvern Preparatory School since 2014.
Watching Moore engage his students, all juniors and seniors, is a pure pleasure. The class begins with a prayer—which, by the end of class, some students need more than others. Drawing examples on a yellow board, which occupies the entire front of the classroom, Moore’s topic for the day is absolute extrema.
“If I were to say, ‘Shirk, you are absolutely the tallest person in the entire class,’ what does that mean?” Moore asks his students, indicating Aaron Shirker, a senior. When a student articulates an incomplete response, Moore encourages him. “You have some of it…but you’re missing a key component.” Then, moments later, Moore exclaims “Bingo,” when another student replies correctly (that there is only one person who is the tallest in the class).
The atmosphere of the classroom is collaborative and the students seem comfortable with one another. Moore asserts that the single-gender school may provide fewer distractions for the students to overcome. Thus, their confidence levels typically remain high. He encourages the students to continue to develop their answers, conducting his class like a brainstorming session.
Once the instructional portion of the one-hour class is complete, Moore breaks the students up into groups. Each student positions his desk seamlessly next to his classmate’s in preparation for the project, a typical component of this class.
Their task is to find the absolute extrema from the function and domain that Moore provides on the ever-useful yellow board.
Even though the students are cracking jokes and being rowdy, when it comes time to deliver their responses, the students’ answers are mostly on target. Later, Moore states that he appreciates the fact that when his students “let off steam” during class, he can always bring them back into the teaching moment. He is very impressed with their dedication and estimates that many of these students will continue studying in the sciences during college.
Class is almost over and, as students begin to pack up, Moore delivers the results of the previous week’s exam. Although it appears that this exam wasn’t the best work that these students have done, Moore explains that he prefers that students take a risk even if the answers are not completely right as long as they eventually discover the correct answer. He conducts his class with a philosophy of “rigorous but patient.”
“Gentlemen,” Moore yells to get the students’ attention again. Each student stops and turns to Moore—unconsciously absorbing the qualities that their teacher, and undeniable mentor, personifies. They are indeed being molded into gentlemen.