This year, Analy’s resident geometry enthusiast, Mr. Casey, is retiring. He has been teaching for 33 years total, and 22 of them have been spent here at Analy. In addition to being a great math teacher, he has been involved in all kinds of things at Analy (as well as at the Sonoma County office of Education) to make education more interesting and tangible.
“My biggest goal is to design the perfect lesson, the perfect curriculum,” says Mr. Casey. “Almost everything I see in my daily life, I think: how could I use this in the classroom?” Because of his retirement, he will miss being able to share his experiences and interests with others. “I’ve always learned so that I can share [my findings] with someone else… It’s sort of like a tree falling in a forest: if you learn something and you don’t share it with anybody, did you really learn it?”
“A teacher is like… a conductor, and a composer, and an arranger at the same time. We don’t necessarily play the music, but we did at one time. We have to figure out what is the best way to bring 35 people together to enhance their understanding of what we are presenting,” explains Mr. Casey. His goal as a teacher has been to create that perfect “symphony”.
Geometry fascinates Mr. Casey to this day, even though he has taught it for 25 years. He loves the connections to art and the real life applications. He loves the visuals involved and the ways that it can be used to describe the world.
Unbeknownst to many students, Mr. Casey and his former classes (in collaboration with the Sebastopol Center for the Arts) built the obelisk in front of the library, which is actually a solar calendar, as well as the Circle of fifths next to the new band room, and the brick oven by the foods room. He fondly looks back on these projects as some of the most memorable things he has done here.
His favorite things about Analy and its students are their respectfulness, kindness, and the strong community that they create here. These qualities of Analy students especially stood out when Mr. Casey’s son, Nick, was in his class. “It made the whole class that he was in feel sort of like my family or my kids.”
Mr. Casey is the kind of teacher who uses real life to teach his students and then takes what he learns from his students back to his life. As a lover of music, he had his trig classes build cardboard guitars. “That lead me to become an armature luthier,” he says, “so I actually have made guitars… because of what I learned in teaching it.” He also taught a class called Eco-Action in which they built a tiny house and solar ovens, both of which he wants to continue building in his retirement.
Though this is the end of his teaching career, his one wish to improve education is that science and math be better integrated into other classes. “I think we could cover the material better… a huge fault of our education is the distinction between courses.”