Results from our recent annual Parent Survey reveal that the top reason why parents choose GAC is our high-quality teachers. Math teacher and Department Chair Terry Beasley is a prime example and a reminder of why investing in private Christian education is worthwhile. Fifty percent of his AP Calculus students earn a 5 on the AP exam. Were you to visit his class, this veteran teacher of 21 years might pull out a manila envelope full of notes from former students who discovered something truly remarkable while in his class: how limitless and capable they really were. He keeps these notes for sentimental reasons but also as a way to encourage his current students, especially when they read of students for whom math wasn’t “their thing” but who, as a result of Mr. Beasley’s teaching, were able to succeed at a high level.
One of the funniest questions Mr. Beasley has received about his teaching has come from his international students. They’ve asked him, in a deadpan and confused sort of way, “Mr. Beasley why do you make everything so fun?” Says Mr. Beasley, “It’s much different than anything they’ve experienced in their home country.” His response? “If I have to be here, I’m going to make math fun.” He goes on to explain: “But don’t misunderstand me though. My classes are hard. I’m going to keep the bar here (hold his hand up high), but I’m going to help you get there.” And for good reason. “If you’re just fun and not challenging, the kids don’t grow. If you’re challenging and not fun, the kids don’t enjoy it. If you’re both, kids realize that they can be good at something and that it doesn’t have to be boring. It can be something they look forward to, even if it’s not their favorite subject.
During the course of a school year, Mr. Beasley helps kids find a love for math, but there’s also character that gets built as well. Students become resilient as they work to uncover the “why” behind the work they are doing. And part of that means making mistakes along the way. Mr. Beasley (who thinks of himself as a mathematical coach) is there to help them get over “the fear of the fear” of messing up. “Our kids are so pressured into thinking that they must get A+. ‘I got that wrong. I'm gonna fail’ instead of, ‘I got that wrong. Let me figure out why’. Once you do that, the grade starts to reflect the knowledge.”
“Even if you don’t like calculus, I’m going to help you become a better student. Everything I teach the students about how to approach learning is universal. If you can figure out why or how you do the things you do, it makes preparing for any type of situation so much easier. If you have no idea why you’re making the decisions you’re making, you are going to struggle no matter the class. My philosophy is teaching students how to think.”
Mr. Beasley has a specialist degree in curriculum and instruction and he’s created an entire curriculum with a cumulative approach to pre-calculus and calculus that has paid dividends with his students. He has been selected as a STAR teacher twice and nominated for Teacher of the Year numerous times. But his biggest accomplishment in 21 years? Watching the transformation in his students, year after year, knowing they are becoming the best version of themselves.