Do you remember that first moment in math class when the cold sweats and nausea began? Maybe it was Algebra or maybe it was just story problems. Well, Frank Ayers can help you through that.
Ayers teaches math and business administration degree classes at Minnesota School of Business–St. Cloud, but his specialty is working with the math-phobic student. He understands that fear, he says, because although he loves mathematics, he admits he is not particularly analytical by nature. He gets that math “pros” are and those who aren’t suffer through math because they aren’t.
“I like creating an environment where it’s okay to ask questions and okay to be wrong,” Ayers says. “I’m motivated that everyone can learn it.”
His students agree.
Tabatha Nentl, a first-year student, recalls, “I not only shocked myself but my family as well with how much I was able to understand math I had never been exposed to before. Frank’s ability to bring math to life made it much more interesting.”
Destiny Fredell seconds that endorsement. “I thought that math would be my least favorite class last semester, but it turned out to be my most favorite class. [Ayers] helped me overcome this fear [of math] by making it fun, and he is very good at explaining how things work.”
Dean of Faculty Christine Jegers says that is the overwhelming opinion of all of Ayers’ students as seen through course evaluations. “His rapport with students is amazing. He has a comfortable way of disarming them with humor.”
For example? In his Foundations of Math class, Ayers equates the less than (<) and more than (>) symbols to “Pac Men” (from the old video game fame) to eating numbers. Or, on the first night of class, Ayers has students participate in the name memory game where they can use symbols to represent their names in an unforgettable way to their new classmates. To demonstrate, he uses baseball imagery for his own name: Frank (draw a hot dog) and a mistake in baseball (error = Ayers.) He then tells students if they choose to use the Frankenstein image to remember him, it will hurt his feelings. (Ayers is a rather large guy.)
But suggest to Ayers that the secret to his success in the classroom is humor, and he balks. “Math is not funny at all,” he tells you. “It doesn’t work at all.”
And he says this with a completely straight face.
There is method to his madness. Look at the name game, for example. “Amazing things [happen] on day one,” he points out. “Presenting in front of the class; learning names. [It shows you have] skill no matter what your program is.”
Also, as a trained Insights™ instructor, Ayers believes he has an advantage in the classroom. “I can recognize the [communication] types [of students] and utilize my energies accordingly,” he maintains. “I can be very patient.”
By the way, students are not the only members of Ayers’ fan base. He has twice won the Instructor of the Year award at the St. Cloud campus, (including last quarter) and three times won Instructor of the Quarter. Jegers adds that Ayers is a wonderful mentor to new faculty and is expert at leading them from industry to teaching.
So what does Ayers do in his free time? Try rock star.
His passion is music, which all began about 10 years ago with a band called Panoramic Blue and a hit called, “It’s Raining.” He continues today by playing cover bands at local venues and summer festivals.
Kind of makes you want to come out of the dark and take a math class, doesn’t it?