Level Up: Memphis teacher wins national educator award

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A local teacher won a national award for teaching math.

Math teacher and coach Nathan Kirsch is loved by his students and fellow teachers at Whitehaven High School.

Last week, Kirsch was awarded the Milken Educator Award, called the Oscar of teaching.

He was presented the award in front of cheering students and was also given $25,000 to spend however he wants.

Congressman Steve Cohen praised Kirsch’s teaching before members of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington.

What makes him such an exceptional math teacher is more than just the numbers.

Those numbers can’t be ignored. Before he took over Whitehaven’s AP Calculus class, not a single student had passed the AP exam. Two years after Kirsch, the class pass rates rose to 83%.

“The more more you memorize math, the harder it becomes... the more you learn math, the easier it becomes to learn math,” Kirsch said.

In addition to teaching, Kirsh also coaches track and field. The team is now state champions.

He told FOX13 class work is about more than just numbers.

“We’re learning how to think. We’re learning how to convince others we’re correct, how to be thorough,” said Kirsch.

Kirsch credits his teaching techniques to his math teacher mentor at Whitehaven, Chandra Perkins.

When asked what he plans on doing with the $25,000, he said: give some to church, help a sibling with mission work and save enough to cut off maybe 6 months of work time before retirement.