Departing Teacher: Michael Mori

James Hess

Math Teacher Michael Mori will retire after 46 years of teaching, 28 of which were spent at the Upper School.

Mori began his career at the Los Angeles Unified School District, where he spent 18 years teaching before coming to the Upper School in 1993. He has taught classes in Algebra II and Precalculus, while hosting classes at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Extension program in the summer and community college at night.

During his time at the Upper School, Mori became well-known among his students for his saying “meaning over method,” Algebra II student Thea Pine ’23 said.

Mori said he first used the phrase while tutoring for standardized tests, when he discovered that some students thought of math as just a series of formulas to memorize.

“When I started preparing students for the SAT, I realized that it was more important for students to learn the [‘meaning,’ or ‘why,’] rather than the [‘method,’ or ‘how’],” Mori wrote in an email. “Students blindly follow a rule, formula or shortcut and come up with the wrong answer. I believe this is how careless mistakes occur.”

Mori’s teaching style boosted student’s math abilities

Algebra II student Mateo Ahmad ’23 said Mori’s method of explaining concepts helped him learn material more effectively.

“He wants students to completely understand the material instead of using a formula without actually learning anything,” Ahmad said. “It makes him a kind, understanding and genuine person.”

Mori also frequently used technology when teaching, something he took advantage of during online school. Mori said trying different ways of teaching allows him to be more creative.

“I use technology differently than many teachers because it’s like a toy for me,” Mori said.

When he departs, Mori said he will miss the people at the school who infused his life with learning.

“The students, parents and colleagues I have come in contact with have enriched my experience and have been a blessing to my life,” Mori said.