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“I told them the first day I didn’t want to create math masters,” he said. “I want to create problem solvers.”

His students say his methods work.

“When we do hands-on stuff, that’s what helps us,” said LaEtta King, 18 and in the 12th grade.

“He explains it and lets us do it for ourselves,” said Portia Chase, 17, an 11th-grader.

Myers practices an inquiry-based approach that was emphasized in his USC studies and he is also well versed in culturally relevant teaching, a pedagogy that emphasizes an understanding of students’ cultural backgrounds, Dickey said.

That is important knowledge for Myers, who is white, teaches predominantly black and Hispanic students and brings to the table a far different education background. Growing up in Irmo in a family of five children, Myers attended private Christian schools - Heritage Christian Academy and Ben Lippen School - skipped a grade and then was homeschooled his final two years.

“He sincerely believes he can’t teach in the way it worked for him,” Dickey said. “He has to employ methods his teachers perhaps never employed. I know he really gets the importance of sensitivity to the cultures of others, to make the lessons relevant.”

In his short time in the classroom, Myers has also discovered what those in the profession also know - some students will sop up knowledge like sponges while others will pass through with barely a nod to the material.

That has not diminished Myers‘ enthusiasm and joy at being in the classroom, even as he casts a sometimes jaundiced eye on the culture of American public education, which he believes infuses students less with a love of learning than with a desire to get a grade and get out.

His Algebra III class is full of learners, kids who shout out answers and do their share of peer-teaching, explaining a complicated problem to a deskmate. During first block, he serves as facilitator to a class of three highly motivated Keenan students who are participating in the S.C. Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics Accelerate program. He also received special summer training to teach a Principles of Engineering class that includes top students.

But his afternoon Algebra II class is far less enthusiastic, full of teenagers who find math daunting and see no reason to do anything but the minimum.

“I would say 20 of them don’t want to learn,” he said. “That is something that I have to deal with every day. I can’t expect what happened in this class (Algebra III) to happen there. If I expected a great, fulfilling experience for the students in that class I would be discouraged.”

Fortunately, Myers said, the students love his own zest for math, even if they do not often share it, so he knows he is getting across the idea of showing respect for each other and for the subject.

“They might remember some of the math and they will be better problem solvers.”

Myers said he might one day pursue a Ph.D. in math and even teach on the university level. But for now, Keenan feels like home. If he teaches in South Carolina for eight years - and certainly state education administrators hope to retain teachers like Myers for the long haul - his student loans will be forgiven.

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