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December 18, 2012 - A Penn GSE degree turned out to be the ticket to a dream job for alumnus Brad Latimer. Latimer chairs the mathematics department at the acclaimed Philadelphia public magnet school Science Leadership Academy (SLA). SLA is known for its academic achievement, project-based inquiry learning, 1:1 laptop ratio for its students, and enormous diversity. It is also known for its exceptional faculty.
“I wanted to move back to Philly, and I knew that Penn GSE has a really good program,” said Latimer. “I knew I wanted to be a public school teacher, and I knew that I would be happier in a project-based, inquiry-based environment to really engage kids. I felt that Penn could get me there, and it did.”
After earning his master’s in Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum* from Penn GSE in 2008, Latimer began looking for a job in Philadelphia’s public schools. When he articulated the kind of environment he wanted to work in, someone suggested he investigate SLA. At the time, SLA principal and founder Chris Lehmann was actively searching for a math teacher whose approach aligned with the school’s innovative spirit and pedagogy.
“Brad was a perfect fit for our school,” says Lehmann. “A Penn degree often puts a candidate on the top of my resume list, and it certainly did with Brad. No matter what the state of the economy, there is always a shortage of qualified and talented teachers. I know that when Penn GSE is on the resume, I’m getting someone who is a very smart and thoughtful teacher who is ready for the classroom.”
Philly-area native Latimer was inspired to become a teacher after working at a boarding school for kids with difficult home lives for his a senior project in high school. But after graduating from college with a degree in education, Latimer struggled to find a job. He ultimately spent a semester in Costa Rica as a teaching assistant, and then three years at a private high school in Maryland.
Latimer feels very fortunate about his life now. He was awarded the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award in 2010, and has led presentations with teachers from all over the country at SLA’s national EduCon conference. This past fall, the innovative math teacher gave back by teaching a Math Methods course for the Penn GSE Teach For America program.
“I was intrigued by the idea of teaching at GSE because I had such a great experience, and the teachers had such an impact on me. I was also interested in how an inquiry-based approach could be demonstrated to first-year teachers,” said Latimer. “The experience also enriched me. I was surprised at how much I learned from my students, and have tried a number of their ideas in my own classes. Penn GSE continues to be a big influence on my work!”
*This program is now Teaching, Learning, and Leadership. For a list of all degree programs in our Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Division, click here.