Profiles in Education: Kent Haines

It’s that time of year again: Fall. Back to School. You’re deciding where to go to business school, when to apply, and oh right, when to sign up for the GMAT! Rest assured that with Veritas Prep you’re not only getting an instructor who loves to teach the GMAT, but possibly one who really lives for education.

Veritas Prep not only has a number of experienced GMAT instructors worldwide, but many of those instructors have also pursued education as a lifelong career. The Veritas Prep faculty includes college professors, educational PhDs and Ed. Ds, schoolteachers and administrators, and many others for whom teaching is a passion and not a job. We interviewed a few instructors to learn more about their passion for education, and to show how this passion has translated into the Veritas Prep classroom experience. The first interview showcases Kent Haines, a Veritas Prep instructor and middle school teacher in Chicago.

Who is Kent Haines?
Kent is a popular Veritas Prep instructor, and when he isn’t busy teaching the GMAT and helping students with their questions, he can be found in a small private school in the suburbs of Chicago. After receiving a MS Ed degree in Secondary Math Education from the University of Pennsylvania, Kent began teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th grade math during the school year while still working with Veritas Prep. In this interview you can see Kent’s passion for analyzing how students learn and helping them reach their academic goals. He puts himself on the same side as his students so they can all learn as one.

An Influential Teacher
Growing up, Kent said, “I hated math until I finally took Calculus in high school. I realized there was a better way to teach math, and I’ve been trying to improve my students’ experience ever since.” Like many of us, Kent did not enjoy math in school, but he has since learned to transform teaching so students can understand difficult concepts. He said, “I took Physics and Calculus from the same teacher in high school, and that was the first time that I truly loved math or science. I could suddenly see how math connected to the structure of the world I lived in, and it was fascinating to me. My teacher really pushed me and my classmates to justify our reasoning and explain ourselves clearly.”

His Own Teaching
When asked about his favorite moment in his teaching career he explained, “My favorite teaching moment is one that happens when one student asks a question that is immediately fascinating to the whole class, and we spend the rest of the class exploring it. I often have to fight for the attention of 7th graders, but every once in a while something just brings the whole class together. Usually it’s not something I planned, so I don’t know the answer any more than they do, and we are suddenly all on the same side of the problem, trying to crack it.” Kent sees education as a journey and a conversation, and he takes these steps to solve problems with his students, so they can discover the solution together.

Why Education?
Kent wanted to improve the experience students had in school. He was frustrated with the way math was being taught to him and he decided to do something to change it. He explains, “Math was taught to me in a very unremarkable way, with a lot of lecture, memorization, and worksheets.” He hated it until he realized he could change it, and that is exactly what he did. By earning a master’s in education and studying curriculum development along with educational psychology, he was able to put academic backing behind his natural instincts for what makes lessons engaging and meaningful. He also brings the backing of his “Philly’s Phunniest Comedian” award, showing that he can make even the dullest material entertaining. Kent has found that with middle school and GMAT prep alike, students learn best when they are presented with context – why each concept is important and how it relates to other concepts – and when they can discover relationships instead of being told about them.

He is constantly trying to improve his teaching skills. Though he sometimes has to put an end to sporadic classroom conversations about Justin Bieber, he’s confident that if he can win a 12-year old’s attention, he can make your algebra lesson engaging and memorable, too.

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