Mendocino College Faculty in Focus: Jason Edington
Associate Professor of Mathematics, Jason Edington, now in his seventh year at Mendocino College, tries to live up to the old saying: “If you follow your passion, you will never work a day in your life.” He cherishes those moments when he can give a positive learning experience to a student who has struggled with math in the past. “I love to witness their Aha! moments,” he says. “It is addictive!”
However, Edington has not always been academic. A troubled youth, he dropped out of high school in the 10th grade. “I was not interested, so I just quit going to school,” he says. His home city, Long Beach, California, had a booming defense economy at that time, and kids were able to earn $20 per hour even without a high school diploma. “I did not see the point of finishing high school. I thought I knew more than anyone else at that age,” he admits. Two years later, when the defense industry languished, he found he could not get a job. Suddenly, the importance of an education became obvious, but it now seemed an impossible goal.
Edington initially supported himself by working at Little Caesar's Pizza, where he became a corporate manager, with his own store, working up to 100 hours a week, before he was nineteen years old. Later, while working as an auto mechanic, he enrolled at Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo to take a certification course in brakes. To his surprise, he found that he was smart, and he enjoyed college, so he finished up his high school diploma at age 23, and set his sights on a college degree. During his first semester at Saddleback, he says, he found supportive teachers and a counselor who changed his life. One was a Spanish teacher who gave him another chance after he failed a midterm. Another was his beginning algebra teacher, Fred Feldon, who made class so much fun that students could not wait to get there. Edington says, “I could see myself doing that, enjoying that.” His college counselor convinced him to take responsibility for his own education. At graduation, he was proud to accept an Associate of Arts degree in mathematics.
He later attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for one year, but moved back to the Los Angeles area to care for his ailing grandparents, and continued his education at Cal State Fullerton, where he earned both Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in mathematics.
While Edington admits there are some things he misses about city life, he says he does NOT miss the rush hour commute! He loves being able to afford to live within 10 minutes of work, and he appreciates the many cultural events that take place in this area. He feels Ukiah has many of the cultural benefits of a larger city, without the inherent problems.
Known on campus as “the Prof who plays World of Warcraft,” Edington's favorite part of his job is “without a doubt, the interaction with students.” He says, “I love to see their growth, their success, and to know that in some small way, I'm a part of that. I try to make the classroom environment a safe place to make mistakes,” he continues, “because students who are willing to make mistakes are students who learn.”
Edington's family includes his wife, Wendy; son, Ryan,18; daughter, Leanna,13; and his 83 year old grandmother.