Silver Chips Online

Peter Engelmann

Blazer Teacher Recollects his Tangled Path to Math

By Abir Muhuri, Online Entertainment Editor
June 19, 2013
On a typical Tuesday lunch, the Math Office is filled with the hustle and bustle of students making up tests to squeeze in for the ending third quarter. A table of staff chat with their mugs of coffee and savory lean cuisine lunches. Suddenly, in walks a prominent tall man with bright-sporty jacket and a white Styrofoam box filled with a greasy slice of pepperoni pizza. Heading over to the back cubicles, he quietly proctors a group of busy test takers. With binders of math curricula filed across his table, one would assume Mr. Engelmann was born to teach math. But that’s just not the case.

Engelmann took a variety of routes and hints leading up to his present position as a teacher in Blair’s Math Department. In high school, Engelmann was active and engaged. He was swimmer of the year at Boulder High School, an avid gymnast, Cross-Country Athlete and participant in the School Forensics team. Looking back, Engelmann recalls one teacher who inspired him to strive and succeed, his high school
Biology teacher, Mr. Kinsey. “He motivated me to work above and beyond,” he proudly says.

Post-high school, after spending years at Dickinson College, Engelmann moved to University of Colorado where he obtained his Bachelors in Psychology. Later, he earned a Cognition Master’s at Oklahoma. With a strong background in the mechanisms of the mind, Engelmann couldn’t be more non-traditional in his career path. “I was an Eddy’s General Warehouse Supervisor, and Pool Operator,” he says.

Later on, turning the corner into the world of teaching wasn’t really self-made decision for Engelmann. “My wife and I became teachers with each other. We both got degrees together at Blair,” he remembers. Engelmann was a student teacher with Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus teacher, Milton Roth, before he got his Bachelor’s in Secondary Math Education from the University of Maryland. His wife now teaches at Richard Montgomery High School.

However late teaching may seem in his career, Engelmann has seen quite a few math textbooks. Since then, he says, “I’ve pretty much taught everything.” Everything includes Bridge to Algebra, Bridge Algebra 2, Algebra 2 with Analysis, Statistics and Mathematical Modeling, Pre-calculus and Calculus with Applications. After years of teaching almost all that Blair Math has to offer, he’s figured out what keeps him going. “It’s a hard science and it gives exact answers. It’s fun to do and I like problem solving,” he says.

Busy as bees, most teachers plea for a few moments of relaxation time. But for Engelmann, his spare-time hobby is simply driving his son to extracurricular activities.

With a busy schedule, Engelmann’s motivation comes from his students. “They all can do it. If you practice you can succeed. You’re teaching them how to learn for one,” he says passionately, nibbling on a piece of pepperoni. Engelmann’s main goal as a math teacher isn’t to drill math facts or memorize as many students may try. He teaches his students how to be life-long learners. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” he wisely remarks.

Engelmann’s fishing quote rings quite true to himself. His adventurous ride through varying jobs and interests culminated into something he’s been enjoying for 14 years and counting.

His motivational teaching style aside, Engelmann does have a pet peeve. Make sure not to take your phone during class or in the hallway. A master’s in cognition is serious about keeping teens on track and focused, while still having fun.