Covenanter Honored for More Than Teaching Math

ELGIN, IL (October 27, 2010) – Brian Karsbaek’s gift of motivating math students to succeed beyond what they thought remotely possible is recognized in a recent Chicago Tribune feature.

The article carries the headline “Calculus: Hard Work, Inspiring Teacher” and focuses primarily on the gains made by Elgin High School senior Guadalupe Barragan as well as focusing on the work of Karsbaek, who is a member of DeerGrove Covenant Church.

Barragan entered high school with the ability to do math only at a sixth grade level. By the end of her first year, she was performing at a 10th grade level. This year, she is in the advanced placement calculus class taught by “Mr. K.”

“I wanted to do good in high school, but I never thought I was going to do this,” Barragan told the paper. “This was nothing I had in mind.”

Barragan says Karsbaek provided the inspiration. “I started with Mr. K in his class and he was a really good teacher,” Barragan said. “He was always pushing us, so he inspired me in a lot of ways. I wanted to keep going.”

Her story is not unique, however. A year after Barragan took a summer geometry class, 20 other students did the same, many inspired by her story. They had watched Barragan advance even when few others believed in her.

Karsbaek has taught for five and a half years and says he inspires students “by providing true accomplishment so they build intrinsic motivation.” He also does it by being present for the students.

When not coaching swimming, Karsbaek frequently stays after school to help with the homework club. Barragan was a frequent beneficiary of that expanded study opportunity.

Math instructors are hard to find, but Karsbaek says he teaches for a reason. “I teach because it is what the Lord has called me to do at this time in my life. I want to make a difference, especially for those that have less.”

Editor’s note: The accompanying photo is provided courtesy of photographer Melissa Jenco.

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