Introducing Franklin’s New Math Teaching Staff

Oregon diploma requirements ask for three years of high school math, so there’s not a single student graduating from Franklin that hasn’t spent some time in a math classroom. Counter to its reputation as something never used after finishing school, math shows up all the time in everyday life. Whether it’s using arithmetic to find the total of a meal out plus tip, using trigonometry to find an angle needed for a home improvement project, or using statistics to help decide whether or not to get a vaccine, math is all around us. Aside from everyday applications of math, math teachers can supply students with an array of needed life skills, like problem-solving, collaborative thinking, logic, and more. Beyond any sort of skills they can teach, having a trusted adult in the school building can better the lives of students.

With a record number of students, Franklin has also had to expand its teaching staff to match. This fall, Franklin welcomed quite a few new teachers, and among them were three new math teachers: Dylan Cohen, Samia Estassi, and Angie Hood.

Ms. Estassi is teaching three different math classes this year: Algebra 3-4, Precalculus, and AP Calculus BC. This will be her 7th year teaching here in Portland, coming from Cleveland High School. They’re excited to teach Calculus this year, as it’s one of their favorite areas of math to teach. Specifically, Ms. Estassi says, “I love teaching things that have to do with the nature of infinity. I love it when kids have to really grapple with the idea of infinity as a concept.” The most interesting job she had before becoming a teacher was counting salmon up in Alaska. In their own words, they were “walking up streams, dodging bears, and everything else,” on a daily basis. Eventually, she decided to go into teaching, and taught math in Alaska before eventually deciding to take a job at Cleveland here in Portland. One of their favorite parts of living in Portland is the queer community, Ms. Estassi says, “Just so many queer people, and as a queer person myself, it makes for a very comfortable place to live.” She also loves the Portland Thorns, and played sports year-round as a high school student. As an adult, they don’t play any sports, instead practicing qigong, a traditional Chinese system of movement and spirituality. When she’s not in the classroom, Ms. Esassi likes to find secluded areas to camp around Oregon, and prefers to keep her favorite spots a secret. Ms. Estassi is most excited this year to be a part of the Franklin community, and it looks like they’ll fit right in.

Samia Estassi enjoys some time in the outdoors. This is Ms. Estassi’s first year at Franklin, and she is teaching Algebra 3-4, Precalculus, and AP Calculus BC. Image by Samia Estassi.

Also joining the Franklin community this fall, is Mrs. Hood, who comes to Franklin after a year of teaching at Grant High School in Northeast Portland. This year, she is teaching Algebra 1-2 Intensive, Algebra 1-2, and AP Statistics. Before she was at Grant, she taught in Eastern Washington, where she originally moved in 2010 from her hometown of San Diego. Of the places she’s lived, her favorite is the greater Portland area. “This is definitely the best place I’ve lived,” she says, “San Francisco is kind of fun too though.” Since moving to Portland, she’s loved being able to take advantage of all of the amazing coffee shops. “I can’t have caffeine though because I don’t sleep, so I always have decaf mochas,” she explains. She’s also a “big reader,” and “probably would have been an English teacher if [she] could handle grading essays.” One of her recent favorite books has been a biography of early 20th century writer Khalil Gibran. She used to work in mental health, and wants to tell the Franklin community that “[she is] an advocate for people with mental illness, and an ally for people with mental illness.” This year, she’s looking forward to building relationships with students, staff, and the Franklin community as a whole.

Angie Hood stands in front of the bleachers in the Franklin gym. Mrs. Hood is new to Franklin this year and teaches Algebra 1-2 Intensive and AP Statistics. Image by Destiny Bucasas.

One member of that staff is Mr. Cohen, who joins Mrs. Hood in teaching his own class of Algebra 1-2, while also teaching Geometry. This time last year, Mr. Cohen was teaching math at a high school in Brooklyn, New York. He visited Portland last December and ended up taking a job here at Franklin. This is his third year teaching, and so far, his favorite class to teach has been introductory algebra, because, he says, “It’s the basic building blocks for the rest of high school math, and if you can be successful and enjoy it and understand it, you’re going to have a much better time in the rest of your career in mathematics.” Mr. Cohen is also “really looking forward to teaching geometry[, as students] who don’t enjoy algebra” can oftentimes really benefit from “applying that in a visual way.” One of the various jobs he worked before becoming a teacher was a personal chef and caterer in New York City, and Mr. Cohen still enjoys experimenting in the kitchen when he’s not teaching. Since moving to Portland, the thing he’s found most surprising is the sheer number of crows, but he’s been delighted by the access to great swimming spots along the Columbia Gorge. “There are just so many crows everywhere and I am not used to it,” says Mr. Cohen. On his own high school experience, Mr. Cohen shared, “I got good grades, but I was very not present in class, and I did not necessarily enjoy school, and I think that’s part of what’s drawn me to teaching, is just, being able to connect with those kids and being, like, listen, I get it.”

A picture of Dylan Cohen. Mr. Cohen is a new math teacher at Franklin High School this year. Image by Dylan Cohen.

In this very busy year, it’s important for Franklin to welcome all of the new students and staff to the community.

Minor edits have been made to this article since it was initially published.

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