Math is often a dreaded subject associated with fear and failure. Students can walk into math classes downtrodden and disheartened with the whisper of “I can’t do this” on their lips. Dr. Anthony Stinson knows the connotations associated with mathematics all too well, and he is determined to reverse the discouraged feeling students may feel towards math.
Stinson is an assistant professor of mathematics at Clayton State University who is also part of the University’s Teacher Education Secondary Undergraduate Program. He joined the faculty full time in 2010, after 30 years experience in the DeKalb County public schools. His extensive knowledge of standard space learning and instruction helps him incorporate engaged learning into the collegiate classroom. His understanding of public school teaching also allows him to impart his knowledge on the students that will go into that field.
“I have to go inside what I call my ‘tool box’ of strategies and figure out what am I going to do with my students. I have to get them excited about learning. I would tell my public school students to do things like stand up on the table. Sometimes we teachers don’t want to realize we are actors on stage. We have to get the students to buy into what we’re trying to convey to them. Because they know if you love it or if you’re just here for a pay check,” he says.
While working in DeKalb County, Stinson studied at Georgia State University for his master’s, specialist and doctoral degrees in mathematics. Upon receiving his Ph.D., he retired from the DeKalb County schools and chose to teach at Clayton State.
“I think that there is so much here as far as resources are concerned: the one-on-one help for students and faculty and the resources in the Center for Academic Success to name a few,” he says. “I think that it’s just a great place to be.”
Part of Stinson’s success in teaching has to do with what he calls the three P’s of teaching: Purpose, Planning, and Passion. He argues that in order to be an effective teacher you have to feel called to do it, you have to do a significant amount of planning, and you have to be passionate about it. The passion a teacher has can influence and inspire their students.
“I knew I wanted to teach math when I was in ninth grade and that was because of Mrs. Talent, my math teacher at the time. She gave me that spark—that interest, because she was excited about it. That’s why I tell teachers that it makes a difference; you put a stamp on your students. Either positively or negatively,” he states.
Putting a stamp on his students is something that Stinson does very well. Maggie Shiffert, a dual-enrolled Clayton State student exclaims, “he always comes to class with lots of energy, a smile on his face, and a love for math that he constantly shares with his students. I enjoy him so much that I enrolled in his early morning statistics class this past semester. If a student is willing to be in a math class by 7 a.m., then that professor must be something special!”
Changing attitudes towards math and teaching math is a big way that Stinson helps students’ dreams be made real. With positivity and passion, he engages students and helps them realize that yes—math is something that they can do!
Besides his palpable positive energy and love for teaching, Stinson is also well-rounded. As an undergraduate, he double majored in mathematics and music from Alabama A&M University. He plays the piano, sings, and is the advisor for Clayton State’s gospel choir. He is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, enjoys going to the gym, and loves to learn about other cultures.
“As teachers we tend to just teach our subject, and not get to know our subjects. Learning about a student’s culture helps me get to know them, and if students know you care about them, they will learn from you better,” he explains.