The student news site of Carroll Senior High School

Dragon Media

The student news site of Carroll Senior High School

Dragon Media

The student news site of Carroll Senior High School

Dragon Media

Teacher Feature: Chatting with Coach Willis

Nandita Shetty

Coach Jordan Willis reflects on his teaching career and his goals for the future.


Q: What do you teach here?

A: I teach AP Precalculus at the high school.


Q: How long have you been teaching?

A: This would be year 18 for me, number 12 here at Carroll.


Q: Where did you teach before moving here?

A: Let’s see, I taught in Andrews, which is out in West Texas, Andrews Middle School, I taught at Prairie Vista Middle School which is in Saginaw, and I taught at Saginaw High School for a while, and then I’ve been here rest of the time,


Q: What got you into teaching or what made you want to teach? 

A: Actually, I wanted to be an optometrist when I first started, so I wanted to be an eye doctor. And then when I finished school, I got my degree in math, and I did some substitute teaching and knew all along, that’s what I wanted to do. And when I got into substitute teaching and started working with kids again, I was hooked, so I had to go back to what I was supposed to be doing.


Q: What made you choose math?

A: First is because I was pretty good at it. And then I started realizing I love it. So math was the easy way to go. It always felt like when I was in school that I liked the other subjects, don’t get me wrong, but those were work. But when I did math, it was always just fun, and naturally, that’s where I am now.


Q: So in addition to teaching you also coach. What do you coach?

A: I do boys basketball and I do high jump and track for both boys and girls.


Q: Why did you decide to become a coach?

A: I played basketball my whole life. My parents were coaches and teachers. And so I’ve been in the gym, literally, my entire life. And high jump, I just naturally kind of know how to do that and work with kids on that. And I’ve coached high jump forever as well.


Q Did your parents being coaches and teachers have an influence on you choosing to do those too?

A: Yeah, I couldn’t do like a real-world job. I had to do this one right here, it’s just fun. I enjoy kids, so my entire life has been in the school building. That’s just kind of what I know.


Q: So this year you’re teaching a new course, AP Precalculus. How do you think that’s made your teaching style different? Or how is the class different from previous years?

A: I mean, it’s kind of different because it’s now AP. I’ve done different levels of precalculus for six or seven years. It was pre-AP, at one time and then advanced, so my teaching style probably hasn’t changed. Now, I think the only thing that I’m concerned with is making sure that my students have a lot of confidence going into taking tests. But you know, for me, it’s still about developing relationships with them and having fun, them trusting me, and understanding that I care for them. And, and I know that when that’s all taken care of, they’ll be fine. So I guess the only thing is, there’s a test at the end. But other than that it’ll be the same.


Q: What’s your goal for this year and overall when it comes to teaching?

A: My overall goal, which is every year, is always continuous improvement. So I’m always trying to get better. I’m not gonna sit here and say ‘Hey this is good enough, I’m satisfied’. So every year, I try to add a layer where I improve. And so this year, all of this stuff we do at the beginning is trying to make sure I get a lot of new content for my students. But eventually, I want to be interactive, with a lot more activities working together, doing problem-solving, because that’s what the AP exams are going to make them do, I want them to be confident and well versed in that prior to the test.


Q: Overall, what’s your favorite part about teaching?

A: Oh, the kids. Yeah, I like having the relationships from what it is at the beginning of the year, compared to what it’s at the end. Everybody has their own personality, but everybody, I’m gonna try to make them smile. When it’s all said and done, I want them to enjoy coming to my class, whether they love math or don’t because everybody has different strengths and different lives, but I hope that they walk into class and they enjoy being in my class. And so that’s the best part, is just watching it from the beginning to the end. And then when they go off to different courses and move on through their high school and collegiate careers, that they still come back, and talk to me, that they still see me and yell at me across the way and say hi, that’s, that’s the best part of it.


Q: Do you still maintain relationships with your past students?

A: Oh, yeah, it’s great. And then they’ve done a great job of staying connected and checking in with me and yeah, it’s awesome. I love it.


Q: So you always tell your students at the end of each class to “stay out of trees”. What does that mean?

A: What are you talking about? Stay out of trees? I don’t know what you’re talking about but stay out of trees.

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About the Contributor
Nandita is a sophomore at Carroll High School and is a first-year member of Dragon Media. She loves writing news stories and is excited to grow her journalism skills this year. Outside of school she is a pianist and is a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo.