Faculty 360

Duane Bollenbacher

Retired instructor of mathematics
Duane Bollenbacher

Why did you decide to start hosting the summer math workshops here?
While still teaching high school, I often presented mathematics sessions for students at various locations as they stayed on campus, but I did not wish to be in charge of them 24/7. Since I loved working with mathematics teachers, I decided to try a workshop for high school teachers, using the facilities here at Bluffton in 1989. When I had attended workshops as a teacher, the fourth and especially the fifth days dragged, so I tried a three-day workshop. That worked so well I have continued the three-day format ever since.

What will be your best memory/memories of organizing and teaching the workshops?
I have developed many long-lasting relationships with many of these teachers, some of whom have returned for 10 or more workshops. Getting to know teachers of all ages (21 to 65-plus) and years of experience; all levels of teaching (kindergarten to high school to college professors; special education teachers; family and consumer science teachers; even a practicing veterinarian—to learn the graphing calculator); and teachers from many geographical areas (the one from Kuwait came the farthest) has been a huge blessing to my life.

I have really enjoyed their appreciation when they see that once upon a time (51 years ago) there was a teacher just as “green” as they were and who had the same struggles as they have had in the early years of teaching.

Why do you think the program has been so successful (with 98 different workshops and 1,199 participants over 27 years)?
I was able to provide teachers with appropriate learning experiences at the right time. When the standards changed, I offered specific classes for each of the new standards. I offered calculator classes when needed. In 2004, I added three new sessions for “Preparing Your High School Students for the Ohio Graduation Test,” because of increased demand. I hired teachers and professors who had much more expertise in some of the specialized areas.

We made the workshops worthwhile and applicable, very affordable, and FUN. Those staying on campus appreciated the dinner out and the party at our home.

What have you found to be the main difference(s) between teaching “students” who are already in the field and undergraduate students?
In general, the teachers who have been out there “in the trenches” are far more open to fresh ideas. They love and appreciate seeing new ways to present topics and seeing the many different solutions to the same problem