Dustin Adams, 2011 inaugural winner,
Paintsville High School
No brain drain
Dustin Adams laughs when asked if he is “the cool teacher,” but it’s with a bit of recognition.
“I try to be,” he said. “I can relate to them pretty well. That’s the first thing I told them: ‘I’m not going to be like any math teacher you’ve ever had before.’”
This is Adams’ second year of teaching math at Paintsville High School, where he graduated in 2012.
He went to Morehead State University, intending to go into engineering, which reflected his love of math, his strongest subject. “I like to have concrete answers,” he explained. But his now-wife, Katherine, was majoring in education “and she kind of talked me into it.”
“I changed to education, observed second grade and I loved it,” Adams said. “Second grade was a lot of fun and I got into a high school classroom and liked it even more and decided this was what I wanted to do.”
When he graduated, Paintsville High was looking for a math teacher, “so it kind of lined up perfectly,” he said, since he had thought about going home to teach. Katherine is a social studies teacher at Prestonsburg High School in Floyd County.
This year, he’s taken on an additional duty: boys varsity soccer coach. He hadn’t been a soccer player, but some of his students asked him to coach, and he dived in. “It’s enjoyable for sure,” he said.
Adams said the biggest challenge in teaching is the attitude of students. “Everyone comes in, everyone hates math and that’s the obstacle,” he said. “You’ve got to change their mindset, relate it back to something that interests them, which is really easy because I’m not too much older than them, so I can kind of figure out and relate to their interests.”