WE SIT DOWN WITH UPPER SCHOOL MATH TEACHER DAVID BANNARD
David Bannard arrived at Collegiate School in 1989, after relocating from Massachusetts where he taught at Groton School. A familiar face in the Upper School, he teaches 9th-12th Grade classes in geometry, calculus, modeling and fractal geometry, which, Mr. Bannard says, did not even exist when he began his career.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE COLLEGIATE TRADITIONS?
I love the senior speech program. [Also], this is more of a practice than a tradition, but I love the fact that students say thank you at the end of classes. I think that is fostered long before they get to us in the Upper School. Back when I started, students used to stand up for the teacher when you walked into class. That doesn’t happen anymore. But they still say thank you, which is nice.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHANGE AT COLLEGIATE THAT YOU’VE SEEN?
I would say the whole technology side of things has changed pretty dramatically. When I started here, I was in charge of Upper School technology. We had one lab and at that time the budget was about $20,000 for everything — equipment, software, everything!
WHAT IS IT ABOUT COLLEGIATE THAT MAKES TEACHING HERE SO SPECIAL?
It’s a combination of the students and my colleagues. The students are fun to work with. I often think about when I retire that those are two things that I will really miss and I will somehow have to find a way to replace.
WHAT KEEPS TEACHING INTERESTING FOR YOU?
When I started teaching I really worried whether teaching the same things over and over again would get boring. And it just hasn’t ever happened. There’s always something new going on. The math is changing. The way we teach it is changing. There’s a lot that’s still the same, of course, but there’s enough that has changed that it’s really exciting.
WHAT THREE WORDS WOULD YOU USE TO DESCRIBE COLLEGIATE?
I would go back to the values. I would certainly use excellence because I think there is a lot of that around here. I would certainly say community. I love the honor code, so honor might be a third. But I might say appreciative. I do think it makes it very special that the kids appreciate what’s being given to them.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE YOUR STUDENTS TAKE WITH THEM WHEN THEY LEAVE YOUR CLASSROOM?
I certainly want my kids to feel challenged. I think it’s really important that they make connections. To me, the only thing that makes math easy is if you realize that things are connected. We’re not learning 20 different topics. We’re learning two topics that are intimately connected in 20 different ways. And if they can do that, they can start to get confident. I hope they have the confidence to think they can use their minds to accomplish much bigger things than they thought they could. That they understand the world around them and how what they’ve done applies beyond what they’ve done in the classroom. One thing I like to express to them is that there should always be another question. When you observe something, have the curiosity to ask more questions.