New teacher adds light to the math department

Bringing new spunk and energy into the math department is Herb Bocksnick who teaches Algebra 1 and Intro to Analysis and Calculus this year. Bocksnick did not always live in California. Coming from Montana, he found his way here and just this year found his way all the way to Palo Alto.

“When I graduated college from the University of Montana I had always initially thought I was going to stay in Montana, like a lot of people tend to do,” Bocksnick said. “I came to the realization that if I wasn’t able to teach multiple subjects then I wasn’t going to be able to stay in Montana because the schools are so small they require teachers to teach multiple subjects. ”

When looking for a new place to live, Bocksnick realized he had always enjoyed California and was fascinated by the diverse culture. He ended up searching for a job in the Northern California.

“I didn’t want to live in or near the city so I found this small town called Hollister.” Bocksnick said. “They offered me a job, so that’s where I ended up, and I had been there for the last 13 years.”

Bocksnick and his family of five adjusted to life in Hollister but they recently decided they needed a change in scenery. That year, he and his family decided to move to Morgan Hill.

“I figured it was time for a change professionally as well,” Bocksnick said. “I was looking for a district more academically focused, so I applied to three districts in the area. I liked Palo Alto most and have not regretted choosing it since.”

When stepping onto the Paly campus, Bocksnick immediately felt changes from his old school. As he began to teach, he could feel a huge increase in motivation from both the parents and students, which was different from his old school.

“Hands down the biggest difference is parent support,” Bocksnick said. “Not to say the parents where I was didn’t care, but [Hollister] being more of a rural community and less educated, the parents aren’t as comfortable with the school systems and don’t know how to be an active part of it.”

The positive attitude towards homework at Paly is also a major difference from his time at Hollister. This change in pace has helped Bocksnick improve his teaching styles improve so he can work towards meeting every students needs.

“Students here on the whole have the expectation that they are going to have to do work outside of class to do well. The kids at my old school had the idea that they would only work during class. My homework rate is about 30-40 percent better here than at Hollister.”

Before Bocksnick began teaching, he had always had a passion for math, and that is why he has pursued it through his teaching career.

“Math has always been concrete for me,” Bocksnick said. “I like the right and wrong, black and white aspect of it. I like things set in stone, with a conclusion at the end.”

Many students claim that his energy stands out compared to other teachers.

“I like Mr. Bocksnick because he is really funny,” senior Sean Harvey said. “He reminds me of Jack Black’s character ‘Mr. Shneebly’ in the movie School of Rock. He’s really loud. It is sick.”

Bocksnick knows that math can be hard for students so he has created a way to put a fun spin on class lectures in order to encourage his students.

“I try to do things in a way I knew I would have liked when I was a student,” Bocksnick said. “I try to be a culmination of the best teachers I had, full of energy, and I fashion myself after them.”

Bocksnick has felt very welcomed by the Paly community and enjoys feeling challenged teaching in a new environment. He has loved Paly so far and cannot wait to experience more of the community feel.

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