TEACHER FEATURE: TATYANA IVANOVA

Strange things happen in room C126. Catapults are pulled through its parameters just after launching pumpkins moments before, and students are protecting ounces of gelatin from boiling water in abstract arrangements of Styrofoam. Students stand on platforms of nothing more than toothpicks for three “Mississippi’s” (add Russian accent) and videos of last-minute made Rube Goldberg Apparatuses are played. These activities are all considered normal in this classroom, however—the physics classroom of Tatyana Ivanova.

Ivanova was born in Almaty, Kazakhstan and lived there until she was seventeen years old. As a child and young adult, Ivanova was put into a magnet school for physics and mathematics, which helped to foster her love for the complexities of mathematics.

In 1997, a 17-year-old Ivanova moved from Almaty to a small town in Arkansas: Arkadelphia. Moving from a large urban city such as Almaty to a town, population 11,000, Ivanova said she hated everything about it. In the small town, she attended Ouchita Baptist University and, afterwards, moved to Houston to attend graduate school.

While in graduate school at the University of Houston Clear Lake, Ivanova saw college freshmen struggling at mathematics and physics.

“I noticed that math skills and physics skills of high school students were far from perfect,” Ivanova said, “so I decided to go to the source and try to change it or improve it.”

In 2004, Ivanova changed from teaching at colleges to teaching at high schools.  Since then, teaching physics has become a passion for her. After all, math, physics specifically, is her forte.

“Physics is critical thinking— logical thinking,” Ivanova said. “It’s not physics that’s important to us. It’s learning how to problem solve.”

Ivanova said she loves how physics makes the brain take the givens, analyze them, and put them into perspective helping students make educated decisions.

“She’s a very interactive teacher. She uses hands-on work and the online work just provides a little more extra help,” junior Manuel Garcia said. “I appreciate it.”

From this, Ivanova is determined to teach physics with her comical, humorous approach, sparking minds and creativity in the process.

“I like seeing passion in students,” Ivanova said. “When students like learning, it’s a nice sight.”

Story By: Marco Amaya

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