By Michele Handy
As a first generation, non-traditional student, Blue Ridge Community College math faculty member Ben Kearns can relate to the wide variety of students he encounters in the math classroom.
“This is definitely where I want to be,” said Kearns.
This fall, some Blue Ridge students who are signed up for their required math credits may be thinking, “This is the last place I want to be.”
Kearns enjoys teaching reluctant math students.
“I watch students say they hate math at the beginning of the semester, but let go of those negative expectations by the end,” he said.
Kearns encourages students, “to have an open mind and trust that hard work will pay off.”
Blue Ridge is pleased to have Kearns join the Transylvania Campus faculty as the new full-time math instructor. Although non-traditional, Kearns is a life-long learner.
Kearns’ educational trajectory includes earning a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from East Carolina University, a master’s degree in library science from the University of South Carolina, a master’s degree in mathematics from Western Carolina University, and ultimately a doctorate in educational leadership from North Carolina State University. Kearns has taught at Mars Hill University, Clemson University, Sandhills Community College and Western Carolina.
Blue Ridge students now benefit from Kearns’ teaching experience. Kearns loves math, and this shows through in his teaching. He finds that humor, also known as bad dad jokes, go a long way toward helping students relax and be open to learning.
According to Blue Ridge Associate of Arts major Dalton Teso, who took Kearns’ statistics class this past spring, “With Mr. Kearns, you can manage. There are going to be some problems that will get you stumped, but he will help.”
Kearns likes to see students “find that fire,” becoming excited about a career path.
“That is why community college is so great,” he said. “Students can take a couple of courses and be moving toward a goal. There are smaller classes, and instructors have more time for students.”
When students ask, “When will we ever use this math in real life?” Kearns explains they are building mental muscle.
“Math helps you solve problems,” he said.
This fall Kearns is teaching Quantitative Literacy, Precalculus Algebra, and Statistical Methods.
It is not too late to register for fall courses. Go to http://www.blueridge.edu to apply to the college or call 883-2520 to meet with a Blue Ridge counselor.