Teacher Spotlight: Demir Radoncic
Demir Radoncic is a Math teacher with MEK, who teaches High School Honors Algebra II, High School Honors Pre-Calculus, SAT Foundation, MLC Math, BCA Prep Math, AP Calculus AB, and AP Calculus BC.
The following is an interview between him and our content writer:
Teaching at MEK
Interviewer: What is your favorite part of teaching at MEK?
Radoncic: I thoroughly enjoy helping our students maximize their full potential. At MEK, maximizing student potential extends beyond just “getting really good at math”. It encompasses everything from work ethic to time management to work life balance because MEK students have such full plates. So, by helping students implement a plan that they can follow step-by-step, we are able to better lead them toward success.
Interviewer: What inspired you to become a teacher?
Radoncic: When I’m not working at MEK, I teach high school Geometry and AP Computer Science at a public school in the South Bronx, where I also work closely with my school’s principal on developing math curriculum.
For me, teaching is all about giving back. I love working with students and helping them achieve their goals. It’s why I became a teacher. My personal philosophy, when it comes to my educational practice, is to consistently teach students the topics and concepts that I wished my teachers had taught me when I was in school.
How to Build Mindset for Math
Interviewer: What is your advice for students who want to get an 800 on the math section of the SAT or who want to succeed in challenging Honors and AP Math courses?
Radoncic: First and foremost, students must understand that practice makes perfect. At MEK, we are constantly developing better ways of teaching test-taking strategies through implementation, reflection, and refining. Every semester, we are reflecting on our practices to see what we can do better, and then updating our curriculum based on best practices. So, if students engage in consistent study habits coupled with the proven strategies we teach them, I have no doubt they can reach their goals on the SAT or in their Honors and AP Math courses.
Interviewer: How do you think students can build mindset and stamina for challenging admissions or AP tests?
Radoncic: Building mindset and stamina is like having a block of wood with rough edges that need to be sanded down. Just like with getting an 800 on the math section of the SAT or earning top grades in honors and AP math classes, stamina comes with practicing skills and strategies daily. And mindset comes when you understand that your goal is not out of reach. You can do it. It’s just a matter of commitment.
I try my best to show students that they are beyond capable of achieving their goals, not just passing and getting by, but of excelling and doing well. Furthermore, I try to help them cut out bad daily habits in order to find where they can make time to study. For example, if a student is spending several hours a day on their phone, then that is valuable time that they could be practicing study habits.
Interviewer: What are some words of wisdom you have for students applying to college?
Radoncic: I tell my students to remember that there is a human being that’s reading your personal statement. Not only is that person reading your personal statement, but they are also reading thousands of other student applications a day. Therefore, you have to find a way to make yourself stand out by writing a really thought provoking essay, or series of essays if you’re writing supplemental essays. A majority of students applying to top schools have the grades to get in, so there has to be something unique that you display about yourself. It’s important to write an essay that stimulates the reader (Intellectually and Emotionally) in order to really captivate the admissions board.
Interviewer: What do you like to do outside of MEK?
Radoncic: Outside of MEK, I love to go on hikes, play video games, go to the gym, watch anime, and read books. I’m heavily interested in finances and financial literacy, so I spend a lot of time managing my investment accounts. I also enjoy going to Broadway plays. I actually saw Book of Mormon for the first time recently. I thought it was really funny and that the performance was really well done.
Interviewer: As a reader, do you have any book recommendations for students?
Radoncic: I think students would really enjoy the book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. This book really opened my eyes and illustrated how connected humanity is despite our geographical separation. This book shows how we got to where we are today in a fun and engaging way.