With 38 years of teaching experience, Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) professor Mike Garrand is not your ordinary math teacher. He's learned the old-fashioned way – trial and error – what works in the classroom and what doesn't. Forget boring lectures in a filled-to-capacity classroom; his classes are all interactive.
Garrand's developmental math courses use a combination of special textbooks and videos. With a computer on every desk, students are able to work at their own pace using software specific to their textbook. However, according to Garrand, the most important feature in his classes is the one-on-one interaction.
"Because they receive the one-on-one attention, students are able to progress as fast as they can learn the material," he said.
Garrand's students receive a testing schedule at the beginning of each semester. Using that timeline, they work at their own pace; however, all students must pass an aptitude test for each chapter.
"Many times, students work ahead and finish earlier," he said.
Garrand knew early on that he wanted to pursue a career in education. After graduating from State University of New York at Plattsburgh in 1970 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics education and in 1975 with a master's degree in the same field, he began teaching at Saranac High School in upstate New York. After nine years there, he was offered a position at LFCC and has been there ever since. The end of the 2008-09 academic year will mark his 30th year at LFCC.
Over those years, Garrand has been nominated three times to "Who's Who Among American Teachers."
"I feel very honored to have received this recognition, because a student who is listed in 'Who's Who Among American Students' has to nominate you," he said.
Garrand served as the math department program leader at LFCC for two years, and in 2008, he received the LFCC Distinguished Faculty Award.
But, it's not the awards that remind Garrand why he loves to teach. It's the students that have learned skills and confidence in his classroom that they say they couldn't find anywhere else.
"I specifically remember one student who I recommended for a comprehensive scholarship to Shenandoah University. She received it, and is now a very successful student there and has received even more scholarships," he said. "She recently visited LFCC and told me how thankful she was. Her reaction is something that will always stay with me."