By: Tziyona Gheblikian (10th Grade)
Welcome back to the Teacher Corner! This week, the Warrior Word sat down with Mr. Innes, the school’s Math Department Chair. Get to know him as he shares his path to becoming a math teacher at the Hebrew Academy, his hobbies, and where the term “teeny bopper” originates from.
Tziyona Gheblikian: Where were you born and raised?
Mr. Innes: I was born on the prairies of Lawrence, Kansas and raised in Colorado for a few years. I then spent most of my time in Texas where I graduated from high school.
TG: And at what point in time did you move here?
MI: Because I obtained a scholarship to go to the University of Miami, I came here and stayed ever since.
TG: Were you always good at math in school?
MI: Well I wasn’t the best student that they had because I behaved a lot like the students that I teach now. Consequently, once I began teaching I recognized that I needed to be sure that I taught in a form that wouldn’t put my students in the same position that I was in when growing up.
TG: What were your childhood dreams, if any?
MI: I don’t know that I had very many that I could recollect, like often students have now. Back in those days, your teachers, friends and family didn’t really ask you what you wanted to do, or what you wanted to study in college. Nowadays, people put that stuff in your mind from junior high and onward. They use that to motivate you to do or study certain things, or to recognize what you’re going to have to do. Since I had no idea what I was going to do, very few, if any, of the people I was connected with ever asked me that question. I don’t think I ever really thought about it. When I was in college, as I was on an athletic scholarship, I was going to graduate in Physical Education and become a PE teacher. And I realized that I didn’t want to stand out in the Florida sun, so I did research and found out that math teachers could get a job almost anywhere. I had been doing some math in college, so I changed my major.
TG: That was a good choice. So how long have you been teaching math for?
MI: Since 1969.
TG: Wow. So where were you teaching before you came and taught here?
MI: I’ve only taught at two places. I taught at Miami Killian Senior High School, which is in Kendall, for almost forty years. And then I came here and have been teaching here ever since.
TG: So what made you choose to teach here at Hebrew Academy?
MI: I didn’t actually choose to teach here, they called me. I wasn’t teaching, but only tutoring at the time, and the head of school found out about me through some of the students. Some of the friends of the students who attended Killian went to school here, and they had heard of me from them. So the head of school called me and asked if I’d consider working here. I eventually ended up coming and stayed since then.
TG: What made you stay all these years? What do you like about it here?
MI: Well it’s very different than public schools. It’s probably a lot tougher on the student because you’re in class less than you would be at a public school. So that means that you have to get as much accomplished in the time you’re given at this school in comparison to the time you’re given at a public school. That’s quite a challenge for both the teacher and the student. The students are just as nice to me here as they were at Killian. They look to me like they are trying to do the job even if they are subversively not doing that. So I enjoy it just as much as I enjoyed teaching at Killian. Killian was big, I had anywhere from 3,500 to 5,000 students in that school and had the best situation you could ever want. I taught only Precalculus and Calculus. It was very good, but when I came here, I taught all of the different classes and have really enjoyed the diversity that I encounter in doing that.
TG: What’s your favorite section in math to teach?
MI: I’d probably say Precalculus is my favorite because it is actually four courses all in one. It’s very challenging and it’s actually harder than Calculus because there’s so much material to do. I’ve taught it for 30 years at the honors level, so it got to be where it was easy to teach and easy for the students to understand and accomplish a lot. So I was very happy with that outcome.
TG: Do you have any hobbies?
MI: I play tennis a lot and golf when I have the chance. Right now those are the only two sport hobbies that I have. I do play cards at the casino. That’s fun whenever I can save a dollar.
TG: Do you have a favorite food or dessert?
MI: I like sweets, which is a detriment to my health. I could eat lots of different types of sweets. I also like to eat something else that’s not good for you, which is red meat, and I drink red wine with it, as it is very enjoyable.
TG: Do you play any instruments?
MI: When I was in high school, my parents made me study the piano a little bit because I wasn’t participating in anything other than athletics. I wasn’t in the band and such, and they thought it was important to do something musically, so I did that, but it’s been 60 years since. If I had to, I could read music by studying it a little bit, but not at any great extent.
TG: Have you tried to play it again recently?
MI: No, I’ve never played again since I got out of high school.
TG: And lastly, why do you call girls teeny boppers? Where did that originate from?
MI: Teeny bopper is a slang term for teenage girls, and that term was used back in the 50s and 60s. Any teenage girl could easily be referred to as teeny bopper. It was just another term for a girl. Now, if you were addressing a girl that you knew was 20 to 24, and you called them a teeny bopper, they actually thought that was nice because that meant that they looked younger than they really were. A lot of slang that you use today has a derogatory connotation to it. That term does not, at least not when I grew up. So girls that are in high school are teeny boppers. Little girls bop and jump around when they walk. And that’s where it came from.