Meet Nagesh Kumar of Rio Rico HS

2018 UA Online "Teacher of the Year" nominee
Posted at 9:53 AM, Dec 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-28 11:53:17-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — It's the daily accomplishments -- moments in class when students get complicated math concepts -- when Nagesh Kumar feels he chose the right profession.

"And you have kids that tell you -- I understood everything you taught me," said Kumar.

The popular teacher understands what it means to struggle. The first two years of teaching in Rio Rico High School had been a culture shock.

He moved from his native country of India -- not quite ready to handle the complexities of American classrooms.

But he persevered and discovered what he needed to do to make Calculus concepts *click in the minds of his students.

"The most challenging part of the job is to get kids motivated -- to learn. For that purpose, I try to get a rapport with the kids," said Kumar.

Building that rapport with students has led to national accolades that are prominently displayed on his classroom walls.

Yet it still surprised him -- when he learned he was selected as one of the candidates for Teacher of the Year.

"I think some of the kids said, "You deserved it". I was really happy to see that," said Kumar.

Kumar is really happy when students return after graduation-- able to function in the adult world without the fear using math. "They learn to problem solve. And so they're better prepared for college," said Kumar.

There's no mistaking his mission -- molding young minds to overcome any obstacles as he has along the way.