Jakucyn ‘nspires’ students beyond the classroom

Photo by Wyatt Richter

Elisa Kim, staff reporter

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Math teacher Natalie Jakucyn received the T.E. Rhine Award Oct. 21. According to Jakucyn, it is presented to an outstanding math teacher in honor of T.E. Rhine, who was an Arkansas country doctor. Jakucyn believes her experiences helped her win the award.

She began her career at the Willows Academy as a math teacher. After transferring to Evanston Township High School and continuing her work for a few more years, Jakucyn began work as a managing editor and contributing author for math curriculum materials.

“I worked at the University [of Chicago],” Jakucyn said. “We wrote all the materials for the math books. Those math books are actually the ones we use here at GBS. [They include] Algebra Accelerated, Advanced Algebra Accelerated, Pre-calculus [with] Statistics, and Pre-calculus [with] Discrete [Mathematics].”

After accepting the University of Chicago’s request to represent them at their publisher, Scott Foresman, Jakucyn worked as a product manager at Scott Foresman. She traveled to 13 countries and 47 states to present the company’s math textbook materials.

“I was not home five days out of a week,” Jakucyn said. “It was very tiring and I did that for five years, but I learned a lot. The experiences that I had helped me to see an international perspective on mathematics [and] to appreciate many cultures and how [they] played a part in mathematics.”

While working at GBS, Jakucyn returned to the University of Chicago, where she worked as the director of writing and contributing author for the third edition of mathematics curriculum materials. Furthermore, Jakucyn provided input into the TI Nspire calculator.

At GBS, Jakucyn teaches the pre-calculus with statistics and the decision making with data class.

“I love them both equally well,” Jakucyn said. “What’s exciting about the decision making with data [class] is that we got a chance to write [the entire curriculum] from scratch. I like [teaching pre-calculus with statistics] too because that’s the book I helped write. It makes me happy to see that it’s working.”

Math teacher Lauren Sutherlin was a former student of Jakucyn and said that Jakucyn has been an outgoing, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic teacher as well as a mentor.

Philip Gartner, instructional supervisor in the Math Department, nominated her for the T.E. Rhine Award.

“Natalie has done so much for the Glenbrook South Math Department and for the math education community at large,” Gartner said. “[She has] given so much that it was natural for me to want to nominate her and it’s just wonderful that she won it.”

Jakucyn is the first teacher at GBS to win the T.E. Rhine Award, but she feels that she didn’t win it on her own.

“I don’t view it as my award,” Jakucyn said. “Probably the most important reason that I agreed [to Gartner’s nomination] is [because] I wanted recognition for the Glenbrook South Math Department. I wanted the state of Illinois to know how good we are. I don’t need the praise; ‘we’ need the praise.”

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