This month we’re delighted to introduce you to Ryan Cornell, one of our instructors at Carrington College California Online. Ryan first joined our online faculty in the summer of 2010 and teaches a number of classes, including Principles of Mathematics, College Algebra, and American Government.
Our first question was how he came to teach American Government and math?
“I mainly teach math classes, but in addition to my postgraduate math degree I also have a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, so I’m qualified to teach American Government; I really enjoy it, it’s a fun course and a good change of pace from time to time!
Ryan has always enjoyed teaching; while studying for his bachelor’s degree at ASU he worked for a company that ran tutoring services, mainly tutoring math one to one at a private high school campus;
“I come from a family of mathematics instructors; it wasn’t something that I fully embraced at the time, but I enjoyed tutoring students on a one to one basis. After I graduated I continued working with the tutoring company, and I got to the point where I said to myself ‘You know what, I love doing this. I feel good about it, I’m making a difference, and I’m enjoying myself.’ You can’t go wrong with that combination.”
As much as he enjoyed it, Ryan didn’t feel that tutoring would make a good career choice, although a career in teaching was growing increasingly appealing. So he made the decision to commit to teaching and went back to school; he earned his graduate degree in Mathematics and Mathematics Education online at the University of Phoenix.
“When I started teaching online, the experience of having been an online student myself was invaluable. I knew where the students were coming from; I knew what they were looking for, what their troubles may be, and what would help and motivate them.”
While at graduate school Ryan continued tutoring, but he also got a full-time job as an academic counselor, an experience that has also helped him as an instructor.
“It gave me a different perspective; it helps me relate to my students now, because as a counselor, students would come to me and discuss their own instructors. They would talk about the things their instructors were doing poorly, as well as the things they were doing great, so I’m aware of the criticisms and the compliments.”
After completing graduate school, Ryan started work in the community college system in Arizona, teaching Mathematics and College Algebra. In fact, in addition to his Carrington College California Online classes, Ryan still teaches online and campus based classes for other schools in the Phoenix area.
“Basically I teach courses all day; I couldn’t ask for a better job. I wouldn’t want to do anything else, I love it! I’d be very content to be doing the same thing in 5 years. For me it’s the perfect job, it may sound clichéd but I’d like to continue to do a better and better job of what I am doing now. Teaching is one of those fields where once you get into it, you can always work to improve and perfect your art.”
As part of his desire to improve his art, and because he has a passion for his subject and his students, Ryan plans to start his doctorate in Mathematics Education in the near future.
“There are many students who either hate math, or are just scared of it at the start of a course. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me why they need mathematics, I’d be a very rich man! There’s a lot of ‘math-phobia’ out there; sometimes it starts at an early age; it may be as simple as a 3rd Grade teacher who told them they were horrible at math and that has stayed with them for 10, 20 or 30 years.
But then to work with those students, and to see a turnaround is very rewarding. Sometimes I’ll get an email that says ‘I never thought I’d like math, I never thought I could be good at it, but this course has completely changed that.’ When a student goes out of their way to thank me, I just take a step back, smile, and say to myself that it’s great knowing I’ve made a lasting impact.”
Ryan really enjoys the discussions he has with students in class, especially when it comes to convincing them of the need for math in their particular field. It doesn’t matter whether they are studying Criminal Justice, Sales & Marketing, or Accounting, when students bring out examples that are relevant to their program in discussion classes, it’s a crucial part of his job to draw them out into a meaningful conversation on the subject.
“From my experience most, if not all, of our majors have some math requirement to them. So when students come in from a number of different programs or backgrounds, they bring up diverse points during the discussion. It’s good to see students discover the relevance of math to their particular field; all too often math has a stigma attached to it that we need to overcome.”
A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Ryan hasn’t moved too far from home as he now lives in Scottsdale, AZ. When he does take some time off from all that teaching, Ryan enjoys the lifestyle that comes with living in the desert. “Yes the 3 months of summer are hot, but the other 9 months are just beautiful.”
In addition to his love of math, Ryan also has a passion for cycling; he’s raced mountain bikes and road bikes. In fact he had hoped to compete for a place at this year’s Olympics in the sprint events, but although he has finished as high as 7th at the elite national level, a poor season a couple of years ago dashed his hopes. “I’ll enjoy watching the guys in London this summer; knowing that I’ve competed against them will be pretty cool.”
To give you a further glimpse at a side of Ryan you won’t know from school, we asked him what book, movie and music he would make sure he had with him if he was stranded on a desert island for a week, and who he would choose to have with him?
Desert Island Movie – “Oh man, there are so many good ones. I’d probably have to say The Lord of the Rings trilogy.”
Desert Island Book – “Another good one; I think that would be a series of books called The Wheel of Time.”
Desert Island Music – “That is a tough one; there’s so much stuff out there. I’d probably have a mixed tape. Some alternative hard rock, probably a bunch of different genres to be honest! There’d be some Linkin Park on there, maybe some Coldplay, but definitely no rap!”
Desert Island Companion – “It would definitely have to be my wife Lisa, we met at ASU and we’ve just had our 5 year anniversary!”
Thanks for your time Ryan! Good luck with the doctorate and your future career.