Weis earns national mathematics award

By Neha Nimmagadda

Upper School math teacher Kevin Weis was one of 32 teachers nationwide who received a Math Hero Award from the Raytheon Company this summer.

Contest winners received a $2,500 grant which is intended to be used by the winners’ schools in science and math related projects and another $2,500 which is intended for their personal use.

The award is part of Raytheon’s MathMovesU program which was started in 2005 to promote math and science in schools, according to Jennifer Chan, Manager of Community Relations for Raytheon Company.

The program was “designed to help students of all ages remain interested in math and science through programs that inspire, enlighten and even entertain,” said Chan.

Teachers are nominated by students, parents and faculty. This year’s recipients were chosen from 107 nominees.

“Recipients are selected from a pool of highly qualified finalists,” she said. “A committee reviews the nomination and information provided on the finalist’s application to make the selection.”

The nominated teachers had to write three essays to be considered by the selection committee.

They wrote one about how they would use the $2,500 grant for their school.

The second was about the innovative techniques they use while teaching math.

The third was about how they share their techniques with other faculty.

“Scholarship Management Services looks for effective and creative methods the teachers and volunteers use to teach math to students and to make learning math fun,” Chan said.

According to Chan, the innovative plans the teacher or volunteer has for using the school’s matching grant is an important part of the selection process.

Weis decided to direct this $2,500 grant to Harvard-Westlake’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics committee, which he will head this year.

The STEM committee “seeks to improve students’ interest in, and preparation for, careers in related STEM fields, including teaching,” Weis said.

“The committee supports a school curriculum and co-curricular programs that afford students opportunities to participate in individual and guided research in STEM fields,” he said.

According to Weis, the purpose of the STEM committee is to familiarize students with the work of scientists, computer scientists, engineers and mathematicians.

“The money was supposed to be spent on math- and science- related stuff anyway,” Weis said. “I figured the STEM committee would be the perfect group to distribute the money.”

Since he has been appointed the head of the STEM committee, Weis hopes to direct the money into projects that he mentioned in his first essay for the Math Hero Award.

Prior STEM activities include the STEM-Fest at the end of last year, where students from Antonio Nassar’s Studies in Scientific Research class and other classes presented their work in a poster session.

One project that Weis hopes to begin this year, using the $2,500 grant, is an official annual math and science speaker series.

“Dr. Nassar does this unofficially already and has brought to Harvard-Westlake some amazing scientists, but I would like to see something official, and I think it would be great if we could provide the speakers with a small honorarium,” Weis said.

Weis plans on putting some of the $2,500 in savings for a down payment on a house and using the rest to buy a bicycle so that he can start biking to school in the morning.