For four years, math teacher David Nezelek has been traveling across the country to assist the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) in preparing students for AP math and science exams.
The NMSI was formed to allow difficult curriculum to be more accessible and to assist struggling schools in STEM fields. The program partners with schools and districts from across the country to provide training and support for teachers. It provides the opportunity for students to have the resources they need to develop and demonstrate knowledge and skills that will assist them in math and science. NMSI does this by hiring teachers, like Nezelek, to travel nationwide and teach AP curriculum.
Since 2014, Nezelek has been working in the “College Readiness” division of NMSI. He had previously heard of the initiative from his fellow teachers at an AP exam reading. “I can give the kids tips. I think I was hired for [this position] because I have an inside scoop from grading the AP exams,” he said.
During multiple weekends of the year, Nezelek travels mostly in-state but on occasion to other high schools in the country to go over AP Calculus and AP Statistics questions with students at schools where they are starting to implement AP courses or are expanding their range of classes. “[The program] really services underrepresented groups in AP courses — for example racial minorities,” Nezelek said. He is given old or edited AP questions to use as review. Sometimes, he does activities with the students, such as matching and assembling responses to hypothetical test questions.
Recently, Nezelek taught at two charter high schools March 2 and March 3 in McAllen, Texas: the Pharr campus and the Quest campus of IDEA Public schools. While he was there, Nezelek completed several AP problems for the class, and had students work together and discuss what they had learned. He also shared insights from his experience grading the exams. “It’s not much different from what I do with my own students here to prepare for tests,” he said.
Though the time commitment can be difficult at times, Nezelek has managed to stay on top of both of his jobs without complaint. “I strongly believe in the program and feel it is making a real difference in our country’s education system,” he said.