Silver Chips Online

Stein, David

By Mimi Verdonk, Online Sports Editor
December 9, 2011
Name: David Stein
Department: Math
Came to Blair in: 2001
Job: Magnet math teacher, teaches Applied Statistics, Sports Statistics, Analysis 1, Analysis 2
College: University of Michigan
Previous Job: Taught at Paint Branch High School and DC public schools
Hobbies: Baseball, crossword puzzles, Scrabble

When asked about David Stein, students break into an easy smile and don’t hesitate to hide it. “He’s so funny!” says Magnet student Dana Pajarillaga. Stein sits at his desk, multitasking, with his green eyes alternating between the computer screen and conversation. A handful of students see him through the crack in the door and wave. Another teacher pops in to tell him goodbye. Stein smiles and continues to click away.

After growing up in upstate New York, Stein attended University of Michigan before finding his way to the D.C. area. Having taught in D.C. public schools and Paint Branch High School, Stein came to teach for the Magnet Program in 2001. Stein has been interested in math science he was young. As a student, math was always his favorite subject. “Math teaches you how to be smart. By the transitive rule of math, if you can do math, you can do anything else,” Stein says. In college however, Stein gave up his beloved favorite subject, choosing instead to study government. After getting his degree however, he found math calling him back, and went back to school to become a math teacher. “It wasn’t the most efficient decision, but I’m happy,” says Stein of his choice to pursue his dream.

Stein has been teaching Magnet Math for a decade at Blair. Teaching in the magnet, according to Stein, gives him the freedom to teach math in a different way without as many county restrictions. “Since we don’t really follow a specific county curriculum, we get to teach math the way it should be taught,” Stein states. “We’re in control.”

Other than math, Stein spends a lot of his time hoping the Mets will win a World Series and driving his kids around. His three children, one of whom goes to Blair in the CAP program, another coming to Blair next year and the youngest still in elementary school, have differing opinions on math. But one thing they do share is a lack of interest in having their dad as their teacher. “None of them want to be in my class,” Stein shrugs.

Puzzling occupies whatever other free time Stein has left. Always having been a fan of crossword puzzles, Stein attended the National Crossword Puzzle Tournament a few years ago, and met lots of other crossword doers and creators. “They gave me an idea of something, I could do at Blair,” Stein says of the people at the tournament.

He created Puzzle Palooza, a puzzling competition held during HSA week for juniors and seniors who come to school in the morning, when HSA tests are being administered. For three hours a day for four days, about 230 students, 85 percent of whom are magnet, decipher puzzles. The answer to each of these puzzles will give a hint, and at the end of the four days the hints will come together as the solution to the big puzzle. Stein, as well as the participants, are ecstatic about this year’s competition. “It’s a lot of fun. The prizes are huge! It’s the best event of the year,” Stein says with enthusiasm.

Stein looks back at the computer, and begins to click again, presumably preparing another lesson for one of this math classes. Teaching is Stein’s dream come true. To Stein, teaching is more than just enjoyable. “Not only is it fun, but there’s no heavy lifting and it’s worthwhile for the kids. It’s the best job,” Stein smiles.