Jonathan Prewett Honored for Teaching Freshmen

April 22, 2008

Jonathan Prewett makes mathematics -- even advanced forms such as calculus and trigonometry -- seem easier than it is.

No wonder his students rave about him.

"Being in Prewett's class was a pleasure," one of his former students writes. "I really learn in his style of teaching. He was excellent with understanding what he needs to teach everyone to help them succeed. I have already recommended Prewett to several different students."

Another student writes, "It is hard to teach such a boring class, but Jon makes it manageable."

Prewett's ability to engage students, coupled with his work with teaching assistants and his efforts to enhance curriculum, have earned him the 2008 Beatrice Gallatin Beuf Golden Apple Award.

The Golden Apple Award, established in 1986 by Beuf, a former Big Horn educator, annually recognizes teaching excellence in freshman-level courses in the College of Arts and Sciences.

"Jon has demonstrated a very effective brand of teaching, as evidenced by strong peer and teaching evaluations that describe an instructor with a knack for explaining difficult concepts who is fair, approachable and who sets high standards for his students," says Bryan L. Shader, professor and chairman of the Department of Mathematics. "It should be noted that the majority of Jon's classes are University Studies Program or required courses. These are notoriously difficult classes to teach, because there is a tremendous clash between the amount of mathematics that must be covered and students' interest in mathematics."

But Prewett is far more than a teacher.

An academic professional lecturer at UW since September 2001, Prewett also serves as coordinator for the university's finite mathematics and trigonometry courses. Shader says he recently revamped those courses to make the applications more interesting to students. Prewett works each year to train the department's teaching assistants, Shader adds.

His mentoring of teacher assistants, says Shader, "directly enhances the quality of teaching in more than 30 mathematics courses throughout the year."

In addition, Prewett is an M.S. degree candidate in geology "with the goal of becoming a more effective mathematics teacher through familiarity with geologic applications that he can incorporate into his classes," says Shader.

Prewett's students, though, already see him as an effective instructor who is also accessible, thorough and fair.

"I really enjoy the way Mr. Prewett teaches his classes," writes a third student. "He makes calculus seem much easier than it sometimes is. I would recommend him to everyone."

Prewett received his M.S. (1998) from the University of Idaho and his B.S. (1996) from California State University-Bakersfield (1996).

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