Focus on: Math teacher, Mr. Nguyen

Mr. Nguyen started teaching math at Kalani in 2020. Photo by Kylie Tanimura and Daniel Zheng..

Mr. Nguyen started teaching math at Kalani in 2020. Photo by Kylie Tanimura and Daniel Zheng..

Kylie Tanimura and Daniel Zheng

Not a new face around campus, Tristan Nguyen has been teaching at Kalani High School for three years now, with this being his first formal year in the math department. He graduated from Kaiser High School and first wanted to teach over there but could not get the position. However, he says he is glad he didn’t because he prefers Kalani.

“You guys have a better campus, and the facility is a lot more closer-knit,” he exclaimed. “So it worked out in my favor.”

When he was younger, he wanted to be a natural resource policy teacher, then quickly realized that wasn’t a feasible way to live. After spending a year in university, not knowing what to do, he started tutoring math at Kaiser.

Mr. Nguyen started teaching math at Kalani in 2020. Photo by Kylie Tanimura and Daniel Zheng..

“That’s really where I hit off of my stride with teaching math,” he says. “From there, it all just fell into place.”

He then got recommended to interview at Kalani and hit it off with Mr. Otani, a former math teacher. Nguyen started off teaching special education but shifted to Algebra I and Geometry after two years. He described the transition as small one-on-one, hands-on classes to regular-sized 20-30 kids.

From there, he started to build relationships with the students.

“I think he allows students to relate to him well, which is important because if it’s not relatable or interesting, no one wants to pay attention,” Hana Matsushita (10) said.

Making those connections is essential, he says, especially for those who don’t like math. He explains that math is about gaining the skills to problem-solve.

Even when interviewing him, you can tell by his mannerisms that he’s laid-back about how he approaches kids and content, and students agree.

“I haven’t had too many interactions with him yet, but I like him,” Matsushita said.

Nguyen feels the most important thing is for students to understand that he is human, as cliched as that sounds. He says he tries to show his students that they’re not the only ones learning.

“I have likes, I have dislikes, I make mistakes,” he explains. “I always like sharing things about me, and sometimes the kids connect with it, or sometimes they think it’s weird.”

He also explains how being more open about himself allows students to feel more honest with themselves, which is very important, especially when working with first-year students. He says having freshmen feel comfortable in high school is super important. It takes some time to find people who share your interest, but putting yourself out there is the first step.

“He is a pretty nice teacher, very understanding,” Yuki Kimura (9) said. “He is a good teacher because he is easygoing and gives us time to finish homework.”

In the end, Mr. Nguyen fits right in at Kalani and encourages students every day to be more successful. If you ever visit or have his class, maybe he’ll talk more about his time playing Blazblue Chronophantasma.