Roger Eiss has been teaching for Saturday Academy for more than 25 years. He was close friends with Saturday Academy co-founder, Gail Whitney, and served on the board of directors. He was always good at math and discovered that there were many aspects of math he had learned on his own that could be learned by doing puzzles. After rotating off the board, he was recruited to teach a Saturday Academy class on recreational mathematics problems, showing students how to solve math problems when they don’t know the methods.
Roger attended Saranac Lake High School in the Adirondacks in New York. He was already interested in math and while he wanted to take Calculus, his school didn’t offer the class. Not to be deterred, he found a book on the subject, taught himself, studied and passed the exam for New York State. After high school he received a B.S. and M.S. in Ceramic Technology and a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He taught Inorganic Chemistry at Oregon Graduate Institute and later became a senior legislative assistant in the House of Representatives in Washington to his friend, Representative Les AuCoin. After returning to Portland and acquiring his MBA, Roger’s career moved from the finance department of ESCO to information systems at Mentor Graphics and consulting at Coopers & Lybrand.
Once the COVID-19 crisis occurred, Roger volunteered to move his Pre-Calculus Academy class online. Through his extensive professional experience, he knows that in the working world everyone contributes to solving problems, and that’s how Roger likes to teach, with all his students contributing. With distance learning, he was able to successfully teach the class using a more traditional lecture format, but he looks forward to teaching students in person again one day, allowing for deeper collaboration.
Roger says that he still appreciates all of the help his math teachers in high school and college gave him throughout his educational career. They improved his life immeasurably and he wants to pass that along to his students to pay it forward. That is his motivation to continue to teach today. Roger’s greatest wish is that one day there are Saturday Academy branches across the United States. He said, “We’ve shown that the approach offers important value, now other cities need to take it on.”