Teaching is about relationships
Marion High School math and science teacher Gary Stuchlik didn’t come from a family full of teachers like so many people in education did. Instead, he got his start in teaching by tutoring his fellow students in math and science while he was an undergraduate student at Kansas State University.
That along with his enjoyment of math and science and his desire to live in a small community — there aren’t many mathematician or scientist jobs in rural Kansas — combined to make teaching a good fit for him.
Stuchlik said Thursday that the teacher who had the greatest effect on him was Centre High School math teacher Bill Brose.
He said he wishes he could compare his teaching methods side by side with Brose’s.
“Often we teach how we were taught,” Stuchlik said. “He always developed a very good relationship with the kids.”
That ability to connect with students is something Stuchlik tries to emulate.
“When they find out you care about them, they care about what you teach,” he said.
Principal Tod Gordon said Stuchlik is a special brand of teacher, because he is able to make connections with students even in distance learning classes. Gordon said he has gone to school sports events on the road at other schools in the Technology Excellence in Education Network and seen students seek Stuchlik out in the bleachers for assistance with coursework.
“[Interactive Distance Learning] works, but it’s tough when I’m not in the building,” Stuchlik said.
Unlike the Centre students who take calculus or the Herington students who take physics from him over TEEN, Marion students can seek him out before or after school for assistance.
This year, his classes are mostly upper-level math and science: precalculus, calculus, physics, college algebra, and college statistics.
“I enjoy the upper-level classes, but they’re all important,” Stuchlik said.
Those upper-level classes pose some special challenges, he said. Students are more worried about maintaining a high grade point average, and some of them haven’t been challenged at that level before.
“I think part of it is helping students understand why it’s important to take these classes,” he said.
The advanced math classes are helpful for students preparing to take the ACT college entrance exam, which can be more important for college admissions and scholarships than grade point average, Stuchlik said.
That is part of the reason why he offers ACT math preparation twice weekly before school. He said about 10 students make use of the extra help. He is also the senior class sponsor and takes students to math competitions.
Stuchlik is a graduate of Centre High School. He has a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Kansas State University and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Wichita State University.