Observing personal growth that comes with development of young minds is what keeps Dennis Unger in the teaching profession.
A classroom veteran of more than 25 years, Unger is in his second year as a math instructor at Pomerene Elementary School, having taught the previous five years at St. David Unified School District. He happened on the profession after having first worked as a carpenter but came to the abrupt realization that [Canadian] winters were just too cold,” he quipped.
To be a part of the process firsthand is indescribable, he said.
“Seeing growth in the students; that’s what I love being a teacher for… it’s a love to see the learning process… I love to see when the light bulb comes on,” said Unger, a few minutes removed last Thursday from a lesson on prime numbers. He cites technological advances as the biggest change in education and one which continues to evolve with much frequency.
“The biggest thing is technology in the classroom, and also the standards are a lot more complex than they used to be,” he said. “There is a lot more reading and math standards than before.”
Unger teaches fifth-, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade math, along with coding and technology, and Pomerene School Supt./Principal Mike Sherman is only too happy to have Unger on board at the tiny school in the small community northeast of Benson.
“Mr. Unger brings a lot to the table,” Sherman noted. “Mr. Unger’s students excel in problem solving and are among the highest scoring in the state’s standardized testing.”
Unger, a proud Canadian who hails from near Winnipeg — he’s an ardent follower of the National Hockey League’s Winnipeg Jets — does not solely limit his service to the classroom.
“Mr. Unger and his wife Nancy are highly involved in most all extra curricular activities at our school,” noted Sherman. “Mr. Unger is an exemplary employee setting the bar high for his colleagues!”
Unger said it’s paramount — and part of the growth and learning process — to show support for students in their extracurricular activities, whatever they may be,” he said.
Unger, who has also taught on Native American reservations as well as Florida Dept. of Corrections where he taught math and GED coursework.
Unger is humble when discussing his recent nomination for Cochise County Teacher of the Year awards — Veronica Howe, his fellow colleague at St. David Unified came away with one of the top honors.
But at Pomerene Elementary School, Unger is Teacher of the Year.