By Debarati Chowdhury
Source by Rachel Houng
Mr. Sime outlines the steps to using Descartes' rule of signs to find the solutions of a polynomial function in his fourth period pre-calculus class.
This issue’s Teacher Spotlight is focused on Mr. David Sime, who has been working at New Hyde Park Memorial High School for 21 years. He currently teaches pre-calculus, AP Calculus BC and is temporarily covering Intermediate Math.
Q: Could you please describe your experience when you first began teaching at NHP?
Mr. David Sime: I actually did my student teaching at Floral Park, so in the district. I had a real nice experience there, ended up interviewing and got the job here at New Hyde Park. So this was my first official teaching job, and I’ve been here ever since. It was great right from the beginning. You know, it’s a little nerve-wracking, being a brand new teacher, and there’s a lot of things to get used to: interacting with students, interacting with your colleagues and all of the paperwork that needs to be done. So, it was definitely a learning curve at the beginning. It took a couple of years to really feel completely comfortable in the classroom, but that’s not to say it wasn’t enjoyable right from the beginning. New Hyde Park’s a pretty special place; all the students were incredible right from the start and my colleagues were absolutely wonderful and very supportive, and that continues to this day. I think everyone kind of chips in and helps each other out and pulls each other up when the need is there.
Q: How has your teaching style changed since your first year teaching?
DS: You know, when you’re a first year teacher, you’re really heavily focused on doing everything correctly; there’s a curriculum for each course and you want to hit every topic. Sometimes you get a little too focused on making sure you get all the topics covered in the class, as opposed to whether your students are truly understanding those things, so it takes time to reach that balance for everybody. When I first started, I was a little bit more on the “get everything done” side, but now I’m a little more on the “make sure that people understand” [side]. It’s better that we have less topics covered but everyone understands thoroughly. That’s the main difference, but I would also say I’m using technology a lot more; when I first started, it was chalk and a blackboard, and that was pretty much what we used. Not to age myself, but it was a while ago, so we didn’t have anywhere near the amount of tools that we have now, which is wonderful.
Q: How did the pandemic affect how you are teaching in the classroom?
DS: It definitely made technology kind of the main connection between my students and myself. It sharpened up those skills and enabled me to use software and use online devices that I haven’t necessarily used in the past, so that was a positive. But I would say that it mainly reminded me to just keep checking in with students when we were going through the height of the pandemic; you didn’t really know what anyone individually was going through in their personal lives and how it was affecting them, whether it was something completely overwhelming to them... so just being a little bit more in-tune and sensitive to your students and whether or not they are truly there with you or are just overwhelmed with other things... If someone is overwhelmed with something in their personal lives, they’re not going to be an effective student, not going to be able to listen and [they need to] understand that they gotta get that taken care of first. Being sensitive to that is definitely something the pandemic has done. I wouldn’t say I’m the best at it, but the fact that it’s reminded me to look out for those things suffices enough.
Q: What is your favorite part about coming to work everyday?
DS: Students, hands down. You never know what they’re going to do, what they’re going to say and what the interactions are going to be like. There’s something every day that I come to work, some experience that I always find comical and inspirational. It’s new all the time, so that’s a big bonus. That’s my favorite part.
Q: Do you advise any clubs or sports?
DS: Yeah, currently two: senior high Mathletes, which I’ve been the advisor for many years, and we have a really, really successful team and a successful club. We have probably, on average, between 40 to 60 members, which is incredible for a Mathletes club. I am also the adviser for the Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society.
Q: What high school and college did you attend?
DS: I went to Oceanside High School, here on Long Island. I got my bachelor’s and my master’s degree from Queens College, and I recently received a doctoral degree from St. John’s University.
Q: What are your interests outside of teaching?
DS: I love traveling, music, running and doing outdoor activities like playing golf. I also like being with my family.