Jorn “Joe” van de Weghe, a Sequim High School math teacher for four years, is making a difference with Sequim students and fellow Washington mathematicians believe so, too.
He recently earned the 2014 Excellence in Mathematics Education Award by the Washington State Mathematics Council and the Olympic Educational Service District #114. On May 20, van de Wedghe officially will take the honor at a math event in Poulsbo. “I appreciate being valued,” he said. “I’m trying to do different things to reach students but it’s also hard because there are plenty of teachers who qualify just as much. But the responses have been great from fellow teachers, students and parents.”
Fellow SHS math teacher Brian Berg nominated van de Weghe for his innovative inclusion of technology in the classroom particularly by seeking out grants for a remote student response system, Mimio projector and interactive white board to record lessons and post online so absent students can access them at home. He’s also helped students in summer school who failed algebra or geometry make up credits and learn the content fast enough so they’d be eligible to take calculus in high school.
Along with a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Western Governors University in Salt Lake City, Utah, he has a bachelor’s degree in ministry from Prairie Bible College in Three Hills, Alberta, Canada.
He’s also married and has three children ages 3, 2 and 4 months old.
Question 1: How did you get into your line of work?
van de Weghe: My wife (Stacie, also a certified math teacher) inspired me with her stories from the classroom. Before I was a teacher I was an electrician for eight years. I love working with young adults, too. I have a passion for preparing the citizens of the future.
Bonus Question 1: What advice do you have for fellow teachers?
van de Weghe: I want to encourage any teachers to be innovative and use technology as much as they can and remember this is all about the students.
Question 21: As a child, what did you want to be or do?
van de Weghe: It changed all the time. I wanted to be a policeman to a brick layer to a lawyer to a doctor to a teacher. I had a really good math teacher in high school.
Question 42: What is your first memory or best memory of Sequim?
van de Weghe: I remember going backpacking in the Olympics (around 2002). I’ve lived (in Port Ludlow) since 2000 and I rarely got up here but that’s when I realized how beautiful of a place it is.
I’m from, (Rotterdam, Netherlands) and we don’t have trees or mountains there and it’s so overcrowded. (Sequim) is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Bonus Question 2: Where have you lived?
van de Wedghe: I was born in Rotterdam and lived there for 11 years before moving to New Jersey and then to Port Ludlow. My parents unofficially believed we couldn’t live in the same house for more than three years.
Question 44: Would you rather live to 100 or go out in a blaze of glory?
van de Weghe: I’d definitely prefer to be doing something I’m passionate about. It’s important to me to make an impact and not just sit back and watch. It’s all about my love for God and students. My love for math comes from my love for God. I see them intertwined. You see all this order and it makes you think. I strongly believe that when I’m doing mathematics, I’m thinking God’s thoughts after him. In other words, as a mathematician I am, most importantly, a theologian. As a Christian everything you do, you do for God’s glory.
Question 47: Do aliens (extraterrestrial) exist?
van de Weghe: Statistics and probability say no unless God put them there. There are many, many, many planets out there and there needs to be many, many, many variables that need to come together for life to even be possible, especially carbon-based life.
Bonus Question 3: How often are you confused with the other Van De Weges?
van de Weghe: Some people think I’m married to (Jennifer Van de Wege, science teacher at SHS) or that I’m her husband (State Rep. Kevin Van De Wege). I have to explain it to them I’m not either.
In Random Questions, members of the community each draw five random questions (sometimes more) out of 50 from a bag and he/she will answer these questions for your entertainment. With suggestions for random interviews, e-mail Matthew Nash at email@example.com