Teacher Spotlight: Rudy Tresvalles
Throughout the summer, we shine a spotlight on the expert teachers at MEK Review. All of our instructors are experts in their field with years of experience and content knowledge. And we are honored to share their insights with you!
This week, we spotlight Rudy Tresvalles.
Mr. Tresvalles is a Math teacher and tutor at MEK, who teaches MLC Problem Solving Math 5, MLC Problem Solving Math 6, MLC Pre-Algebra 1 Problem Solving Math, MLC Pre-Algebra 2 Operations and Number Sense, and MLC Algebra 1, and also teaches grades 9 through 12 at Westwood Public Schools.
The following is an interview between him and our content writer, where he shares his advice for building confidence in math skills, what inspired him to become a teacher, and his passion for photography.
Teaching at MEK
Interviewer: What is your favorite part of teaching at MEK?
Tresvalles: MEK has really small class sizes. Outside of MEK, I work as a high school teacher where my classes can sometimes be as big as 30 plus kids. But at MEK, my largest class is 11 students. This is a great student to teacher ratio because I get to know the kids a lot better, and the smaller class environment helps me become a better teacher for my students, allowing me to focus on all of their needs and give them my undivided attention.
Interviewer: Where do you teach outside of MEK?
Tresvalles: I’ve been teaching Engineering and Architecture for five years at Westwood High School.
Interviewer: What inspired you to become a teacher?
Tresvalles: I was actually an engineering major in college, but I was tutoring high school students and college freshmen in the greater Princeton area while I was pursuing my degree at The College of New Jersey. I didn’t really have an interest in learning while I was in high school, but when I finally graduated and began tutoring I found a new respect for education as a field. I found that I was more excited to tutor rather than study to become an engineer, so I pivoted into education.
Keeping Students Engaged
Interviewer: With a variety of class sizes, what’s your key to student engagement in the classroom?
Tresvalles: I don’t really have a key so to speak. I believe in nurturing relationships with my students. I’m a young teacher, so I think the students see me as someone they can relate to. I leverage that relatability by giving them questions of the day about topics they are interested in discussing and then pivot that energy into our lesson.
Building Confidence in Math Skills
Interviewer: Do you have advice for middle schoolers on becoming successful math students? How do you give students confidence in math?
Tresvalles: Start simple – engaging students in class with simple math problems instills confidence. For example, I had a student earlier today who was trying to solve proportions. I was able to introduce them to this concept through solving simple factors. But it’s that simple success that creates confidence. It’s important that students understand the underlying meaning or purpose of a concept. It’s not enough to just know the material. Truly understanding concepts helps them build the foundational blocks for the harder concepts that will come later on.
Advice for High School Admissions Exams
Interviewer: Do you have any advice for students taking the BCA, SSAT, or ISEE exams?
Tresvalles: Students need to understand that their current skill level does not define them and that their passion and willingness to learn is what’s going to propel them to succeed in tough exam prep courses.
If students are planning to take high school admissions exams like the SSAT, ISEE, or BCA exams, then they need to have confidence in their skills. This way they don’t second guess themselves when tackling tricky exam questions.
Interests Outside of MEK
Interviewer: What do you like to do outside of MEK?
Tresvalles: I’ve been getting more interested in pursuing media related hobbies. I’ve been doing photography as a side hobby. I also coach esports at my high school. It’s a new program we started this past school year. And I like cooking, drinking coffee, and running.
Interviewer: What type of photography do you practice?
Tresvalles: I’ve been doing small scale events and graduation portraits for high school and college students. I even shot the graduation at my high school. I also did a photo shoot for my best friends who just recently got engaged, and I photographed a baby shower this past winter.
Interviewer: Any video recommendations?
Tresvalles: I enjoy watching educational YouTube videos that are quirky. One of my favorite YouTube channels is Half as Interesting. And one of my favorite architectural YouTubers right now is Damilee.