Mendocino College Faculty in Focus: Aeron Ives
Few of his students may realize that assistant mathematics professor Aeron Ives was also once a student at Mendocino College! Ives attended Mendocino College (MC) from the age of 15 until he received his Associate of Science degree and transferred to Sonoma State University (SSU) in 1998. While a student at MC, he worked as a math tutor in the Learning Center and participated in statewide student government as the California Student Association of Community Colleges (CalSACC) representative. After earning a B.A. in mathematics from SSU, where he also worked as a tutor, Ives went on to receive a master's degree in mathematics from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). While he was a student at SSU, Ives began his fledgling academic career teaching summer algebra workshops, as well as private math classes to home-schooled middle school students. However it was while working as a teaching assistant at UCLA that he finally realized his future would be in college mathematics. “I always enjoyed tutoring, so a career teaching college math just made sense,” he said.
Ives is in his second year as a full-time faculty member at MC, however he taught here part-time seven years ago, before accepting a full-time position at College of the Redwoods (CR) in Fort Bragg. According to Ives, his heart was always in the Ukiah area, and he dreamed of teaching at MC, but he feels lucky to have taught at CR first, because he met his wife, Sarah, at a staff orientation there!
Ives says that his favorite classes to teach are: statistics, because it is all “real world” math; calculus, because of the amazingly gifted students he encounters; and algebra, because he likes working with students who really need his help, and benefit from it. He cherishes those teaching moments when “the mental light bulbs start going on, and students who previously hated math start to realize it is not so bad - they are good at it - and it is actually fun!” His greatest teaching challenge is reaching students who don't seem to care. He says he tries to motivate those students by making a personal connection with them: getting to know them, letting them know he cares, and pushing them to succeed. Describing his teaching style, Ives says his classroom is interactive rather than straight lecture. He uses activities to engage students, and he emphasizes “real world” connections.
Ives would advise anyone interested in a teaching career to start by tutoring. He notes that tutoring one-on-one is an important way to find out firsthand how people learn. It is also a simple way to find out if teaching is fun for you.
Ives believes most people would be surprised to know that even though he was a math major in college, he also likes to write. He would love to someday be able to divide his time between teaching math and writing. He dabbles in science fiction, fantasy, and sometimes poetry.
When he is not working, Ives likes to spend time with his family; he and his wife, Sarah, have two small children, Luke and Sophie, as well as a large, extended family in the area. Besides writing, he also enjoys video games, photography, and chess. He would like to start a chess club for students and faculty at MC, as he did at UCLA. His photography skills are obvious on the walls of his office. He recently photographed a cousin's wedding, however his favorite subjects are his two little children.