This week, the Warrior Word sat down with Mr. Innes, a beloved Math Teacher and Head of the Math department. Get to know more about Mr. Innes's time at Hebrew Academy, his favorite memories, and what his hopes are for the future.
Kayla Herssein: What were your early years at the Hebrew Academy like?
Mr. Innes: They were very interesting because there were three people in the math department. I was the head of the math department, and the other two people were the ex-head of the math department and the ex-principal of the high school. So, I was actually the subordinate even though I had the title. I found it very interesting to go into a department-head meeting and I wouldn’t say, “Ok, we’re going to do this.” Instead, I would say, “So what do I do boys?”.
Ali Smith: Why did you decide to stay so long; what drew you in?
Mr. Innes: I originally had thought I would stay maybe two or three years, and it would depend upon the students. I spent 40 years at Miami Killian, and I had a great rapport with the students, especially the last 25 years once I became established. Once I became established here, I seemed to be able to have a good rapport with the students. I was able to get students to do some of the things that I wanted to and what I thought they should do when they took the math courses. So, I decided to just keep working. It was enjoyable year after year, and because of that I stayed. I always told my wife, “When the kids stop being respectful and kind etc., I would just retire.”
Kayla Herssein: What were your contributions to the math department, and how do you think they’ve made a difference?
Mr. Innes: The contributions over the 10 years I’ve been here were mainly in the procedure of conducting classes and how to handle certain things. I learned this at Killian through many of the teachers who were there. We worked together to try to get a good format of how to run things in a public school, and after a year or two, I was able to institute those procedures with most of the teachers that worked here under me. I always believed that the students should have notebooks. I always believed that they should be challenged. I always believed that you had to do homework, because, in math, it’s merely practice. If you practice a lot, you’re going to get good no matter how innate you are in ability related to math; you can become pretty good at math if you just practice. It’s the same as sports, and so I’ve always tried to do that.
Ali Smith: What is your general goal with your students, and do you think you’ve achieved it over the years?
Mr. Innes: A basic general goal would be that when they graduated from the Hebrew Academy, and went off to College, that they felt prepared for the math classes that they may be required to take. Whenever students have come back, I’ve always asked them, “Did you learn the things that you thought you needed to learn through our math department so that you could get by in College?”. The ones I’ve spoken to have answered positively, and that’s the main goal. The only purpose in being here, in math at least, is to prepare you to go to the next level,which for most of us would be some sort of college and career.
Kayla Herssein: What is your favorite part of Hebrew Academy?
Mr. Innes: I can’t say that I've had a quote-on-quote “favorite part”. I do like that I was able to interact with the students in a more intimate manner than at the public school because our school is small. I taught at a school that had no less than 3,000 people each year, and the highest was 5,000. So, you didn’t know most of the students. Here I do and that’s a great reward because you can interact, you know what they like, you know more about them and their families, and that’s been a nice reward. Plus, the fact that I have also learned a great deal about the Jewish religion, even though my wife is Jewish, I seem to now know more than she does.
Ali Smith: What are some of your favorite memories from the Hebrew Academy over the years?
Mr. Innes: I always enjoyed being able to go to the sporting events and watch students do things outside of the classroom, pursuing activities that they enjoy much more than being in the classroom, probably. The rewards that come from those kinds of sports and activities, and then being able to talk with them on a leisurely basis the next two or three days about what went on when I was watching. I also was very honored to have received the general award from the Hebrew academy for education excellence after being here for 4-5 years. I was very gracious that they did that. It was very kind at the time, and it was something I had never envisioned or thought I would be part of.
Ali Smith: Do you have anything else you’d like to say?
Mr. Innes: I would say that I hope that having a brand new school next year and having a huge number of new administrators and faculty will allow the Hebrew academy to grow more than what it has been since I’ve been here. I think that the leadership that now exists at the academy will give them every opportunity to have that goal be met. You’ll be able to have 300-400 students in the school. When you get that big, you can really have a great school because you can do so many more things than you can now. There will be more teachers, more activities, more things you can participate in, more clubs you can be a part of, and they'll also be able to offer more classes that people will be able to participate in and get a reward from at that point.
Kayla Herssein: Thank you so much Mr. Innes!