In Mar. 29 issue, Russell County News
By Derek Aaron
Russell County News Editor
Scott McClendon never wanted to be a hero; all he wanted was for his students to learn their subject material, specifically algebra and college prep geometry, at Russell County High School.
But, with his unique approach to his students and his use of technology in the classroom, McClendon has made what is a very difficult subject for some into an interesting class that has garnered praise from a number of his students, earning him this week's "Russell County Hero."
McClendon, who is originally from Pulaski County, has taught mathematics at RCHS for three years.
Upon his graduation from the University of Kentucky in the fall of 2004, McClendon said he did odd jobs in Somerset. He was involved with everything from tutoring to substitute teaching before landing a job with the Russell County Board of Education in the fall of 2005.
He obtained his masters from the University of the Cumberlands in two years while teaching and has brought his own style of teaching to Russell County with him.
McClendon teaches sophomores and juniors under his two subjects and compares his teaching methods to that of learning how to play an instrument.
"It's sort of like playing music, you pick up influences here and there," he said. "I try to pick the best parts from some of my favorite teachers that I've had."
He said he also continually asks questions of faculty at the school and modifies his approach from there, if needed.
"This is one of the best faculties someone could work with," McClendon said. "It's truly a team effort around here."
"I try to integrate as much technology as I can into the class," he said. "Technology is one of my hobbies and past times."
He said the administration and school board really pushes for teachers to use more hi-tech equipment in their classrooms and McClendon has definitely answered that call.
"With the Promethean board and the projectors and the software I've been able to purchase I've really triggered an interest in the classroom," he said.
The Promethean Board is a special board used in conjunction with a projector. The board is mounted on a wall and used in teaching lessons. McClendon can type on his computer and have the text projected on the board.
He can also write on the board using a special magnetic pen. The device also allows him to use images that come preloaded with the board's software, and manipulate them in a variety of ways to demonstrate the material they are teaching, according to the board's manufacturer.
McClendon said these devices and programs really helped to stir an interest in his subject. He also operates a blog accessible from the high school's Web site, www.russellcountyhigh.com that can be found at scottmcclendon.edublogs.org
On his blog, which he updates several times a week, he posts worksheets, answer keys and even audio and video of him using the Promethean board to discuss problems and equations encountered by students.
Jessica Cain, a sophomore in McClendon's college prep geometry class, said she has gained a higher appreciation for mathematics since having him as a teacher.
"Everything he does is with technology," Cain said. "He uses the (Promethean) board every day and it helps us to learn because we visually see what he's doing."
Cain said McClendon could always be counted on to never go forward with a lesson if someone was stuck on a problem. She said he would take the time to explain the problem through before continuing with the day's lesson. Also, she said the blog helped keep her and her classmates organized from one day to the next as he posts assignments and answers to problems.
"That was one of my goals coming in and its pretty straight forward," McClendon said. He initially set up the blog for a college course he is teaching at Somerset Community College's Russell Center but soon realized his high school students could benefit from the site as well as most now have Internet access from home.
McClendon said he didn't want to teach a "dry" class where his students would come in, take notes, do a worksheet and leave. Rather, he does all that in an entertaining way by bringing up current events to establish good rapport with his students while teaching math.
"I try to keep an open dialogue with my students," he said. "I set up a gmail account just for these students to e-mail me so they can contact me whenever they want to."
He said he tries to know each of his students on a personal level, yet retain that professionalism he is endowed as an educator.
"I want them to have fun because if they're not having fun, I'm not having fun," he said. "You definitely don't want to turn them off of math."
He said the technology also allowed him to reach those that are visual learners rather than learn through hearing.
"You have different types of learners and you have to hit all of those," he said.
In recent days, an anonymous student of his posted on the popular Russell Springs Forum at www.topix.com about what a terrific and dedicated teacher McClendon is. The following is the transcript from the post:
"Of all the years that I have been in school, I have to say that I have learned that teaching is a very unique and special gift from the grace of God. Scott McClendon is not only a divine teacher but a good man. He is blessed.
"He uses a very unique, yet effective teaching method. Anyone who has ever tried to teach high school students, or has even been a teenager, knows that the attention span of most teenagers is very slim. He uses real world examples, to keep even the most difficult students attentative. He cares for each and every one of his students.
"He even uses a Web blog for the students to keep track of their work. He stays after hours every day, and offers a tutor program (with individual attention to every student), almost every day of the week.
"He does a great job, at what he does. He has a great mind and an even greater interest for his students. Of all the teachers, He is one to make a difference, thanks."
McClendon attended Southwestern High School in Pulaski County, graduating in 1999.
He has been married nearly two years to his wife, Stephanie, whom he went to school with at Southwestern. She is also a math teacher at Southern Elementary in Pulaski County.
"No, we don't set around and do math problems at home," he joked.
McClendon enjoys hands-on projects. He recently built a home entertainment center as well as a book shelf and has, in the past, built furniture and cabinets. He enjoys music, movies and television and even plays the guitar.
A self-labeled "jack of all trades," McClendon can now add hero to the list, because sometimes all it takes to be a hero is just doing your job.