It only makes sense that Jeff Herkimer has a formula for living life. Being one of Laurel Springs’ talented math instructors, it stands to reason that he approaches life with a by-the-numbers philosophy, using calculated methods to overcome challenges to reach solutions.
As one of the world’s most celebrated inventors once noted, Thomas Edison never failed, he just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work. This notion comes to life in Mr. Herkimer’s classroom, where he encourages students to simply try something when difficulties arise. “If you try something, we can work with that,” Mr. Herkimer says.
Informed by a professional career that dates back to 1992, Mr. Herkimer specifies how students can address challenges inside and outside of the classroom utilizing the most basic of methods – a list.
“You sometimes have to sit back and take a look at what you have to do to overcome that challenge,” Mr. Herkimer says. Instead, the Michigan native suggests prioritizing, tackling single components one by one until an entire task is completed.
Another challenge Mr. Herkimer has faced is the fact that some students are often unenthused by mathematics in general. In an effort to make the topic more relatable, he often utilizes storytelling as well as connecting subject matter to outside interests in order to capture the attention of students. For instance, tennis players often become enthusiastic about geometric principles when relating them to how they work on the court.
The sports angle comes naturally to Mr. Herkimer, as the lifelong athlete is also an assistant coach for the girls’ soccer team at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School in Rumson, NJ, where he brings his strategies outside of the classroom and onto the field. Here he applies another list that stresses to players the importance of having fun, improving, and competing at a high level. These components have proven to resonate with players, as he has been on staff for all three of the school’s state championship victories.
When asked about his favorite aspects of teaching at Laurel Springs School, Herkimer says,
“I like the flexibility that Laurel Springs provides students. Students can schedule time to do their work when it is convenient for them. I also like that students work at their own pace. If they know they are going on vacation, then they can work ahead and get work done so they won’t be behind schedule when they come back. My favorite aspect of teaching students is getting to know the students. Their strengths, helping them to improve on their weaknesses, and the best aspect is reading that email from a student that they were accepted to their dream university and that my letter of recommendation helped to get them there.”
When not leading in the classroom or on the field, Mr. Herkimer is a husband and father of three who enjoys fishing and the television show Impractical Jokers. And when it comes to approaching life, it’s only mathematically fitting that he encourages everyone to be willing to give 100% effort, 100% of the time, and have a willingness to learn something new.