Meet Netta Maclean
Country of Origin: Former Soviet Union
Languages Spoken: English and Russian
Degree: M.S. in Mathematics
Teaches: All levels of Mathematics in Middle School and High School, including preparation for the IB exam
Q. What led you to become a teacher?
Since 9th grade, I wanted to be a teacher. I originally wanted to be a teacher of English, but my math teacher said "since you are so good in math and have such a passion for it, you should be a math teacher."
Q. How long have you been with the school?
The 2013-14 school year is my 26th year with the school, but I have been teaching math for 40+ years.
Q. What drew you to French American / International?
I was working at another school and a friend of mine was a substitute teacher at the school and he said it would be a really good fit for me.
Q. What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
As I mentioned, I am very passionate about math. Some students are and others are not. For those who are not so passionate and their passions lie in other areas, I hope to instill a level of interest and demonstrate the importance of math in their lives, even when they don’t think it’s so important. For those who already love math, taking them to higher levels is very rewarding, allowing them to achieve as high a level as they are capable of achieving.
Q. Can you describe an in-class exercise/experiment that especially engages students?
Every class is different. The key is to understand that and not use the same techniques for all kids and all classes. Every year, I get to know all my kids as individuals and try to engage them in ways that work for them and the collective. If I have to provide an example of a common technique -- I use a Jeopardy format to help kids prepare for exams. It has a competitive knack, but requires knowledge.
Q. Can you recall a specific moment when a student taught you something?
There is no one student. I learn from all my students. There are those kids who are really easy – they love math, they are good at it, and they want more and more. From them, I learn how to always be at the top of my game – how do I motivate them, keep them interested and inspired? There are others who are very challenging – either they struggle with math, or they are not interested in math, or they just have some personal stuff they are going through. From them, I learn how to get them interested, how to help them learn the skills they need to get good in math, how to gain self confidence and open their minds to learning something that they may not have a natural knack for. So, really every student has something to teach us teachers. This is what has kept me teaching for as long as I have. No school year is the same, no class is the same, no student is the same.
Q. Is there something you do besides teach, of which you are particularly passionate?
I like to do things that keep my mind sharp. I like to learn new things so I read a lot and watch lots of movies. I like problem solving, so I play bridge. To nurture my creative side, I like to cook and my newly acquired passion is gardening. To keep myself physically sharp, I like to exercise – walking and swimming are my favorite. By keeping mentally and physically sharp, I am able to be a better teacher.
Q. What would you tell parents/students about attending French American?
I think the very fact that my grandson, who is the apple of my eye, has been at the school since pre-K and is now in 8th grade, says it all.
Q. What would you tell incoming 9th graders about attending International?
Take the opportunity to take advantage of all the things that this school has to offer – the diversity of the students, the teachers, the curriculum.
Q. Beyond language acquisition, what do you see as the key benefits of bilingual immersion?
There are many studies that show that kids who study multiple languages benefit in many ways beyond the language. I have observed this to be absolutely true.
Q. What do you see as the key benefits of the French/International Baccalaureate?
I can only speak about the IB – it is a very rich and challenging curriculum that thoroughly prepares students for university. The level of knowledge they acquire is immense and the discipline they learn in preparing for the exam serves them well in the future.