Hi my name is Arnaud Jacquin and I teach Math 1, 2 and 4 here at Woods.
As you may have surmised from my name, I am not exactly from this neck of the woods (no pun intended). I am French originally. I was born near Paris, grew up there and studied there until sometime in my mid 20s when the itch to travel consumed me.
Since then, it’s been pretty much overseas throughout for me – that is, overseas from France’s perspective.
In the process, I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to live and/or work in a dozen or so countries over a period spanning about a quarter century. In some instances it has been in countries that you might have wanted to visit as a tourist like, say, Greece. In most cases, however, it wasn’t. I’m thinking of places like the Democratic Republic of Congo which has been the theater of a series of military conflicts for the better part of the last three decades or so. I’m also thinking of places where there wasn’t any conflict but would nevertheless typically not be on your run of the mill travel agency tourist brochure – places like, say, Central Russia (i.e. the Urals, not Moscow or St. Petersburg).
In short, I’ve been to an assortment of places and been exposed to quite a fair cross-section of humanity in the process. As such, I like to think that I bring a degree of sensitivity to mankind’s diversity to my classes. That may be why I like to anchor my lessons within whatever historical context might be relevant to the day’s lesson objective or subject matter.
Another distinctive trait of mine is that I am not a product of academia. I am, for all intents and purposes, a corporate defector. I did not come out of High School or College with a vocation to teach. Rather this is something that gradually took a hold of me and eventually swallowed me whole in what might otherwise be described as a mid-life crisis but was really more of a reassessment of what I was doing in the face of the problems I was witnessing day in day out. To cut a long story short, I wanted to be part of a solution, rather than fuel to a series of problems, and teaching presented a rather natural and convenient way to do precisely that.
I first started teaching math on the other side of the Atlantic in the suburbs of London in 2014. A travel bug relapse and a desire for a kid-friendly setting for my growing daughters eventually brought me back to Chapel Hill (where I had gone to grad school in the early 1990s). A lucky lottery pick got my daughters into Woods and I followed - first as a guest teacher and eventually as a permanent math teacher.
One last introductory thought: although I graduated high school in France with a major in Math and Physics (in France you graduate out of high school with a major), I remember distinctly struggling in math back then. In that respect, things clicked into place a few years later but that’s another story altogether. The point is that I fully appreciate the difficulties many children face in math. I know firsthand how discouraging not understanding something can be and the weight it puts on one’s shoulders over time if left unchecked. This is something I am always on the lookout for and something I try to address as soon as I can. Math is not easy, but you don’t grow by doing easy stuff. I strive to get my students to want to do hard stuff. That’s how I try to approach every lesson.