Derek’s Story

In September 2006, Derek Pope began his first year as a full time secondary math teacher at Commack High School in Commack, N.Y.  Derek is passionate about lesson study, and has been part of two processes at the high school, and has organized in-service workshops for other teachers explaining the relevance of lesson study no matter what the content area. Derek also works one-on-one with secondary students and teaches Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT) preparatory courses. Born in Indianapolis, Derek was raised in Yonkers, N.Y. and in New Jersey, where he graduated from the Hawthorne Christian Academy in 1999.   He first began tutoring as a senior in high school.

Derek chose Seton Hall University where he pursued a bachelor’s degree in psychology. “After a semester, I switched to mathematics, with a minor in computer science.” While in college, he spent summers working as a volunteer counselor and group leader at a camp for children and adults with disabilities. He also had the opportunity to teach math and science at a psychiatric hospital.

After graduating from Seton Hall, Derek was accepted to Stony Brook University’s doctoral program in mathematics, with the goal of teaching at the college level. “I soon realized; however, that my true calling and passion was not mathematical research but teaching.” He enrolled at the school’s Master of Arts in Teaching Mathematics program and earned his graduate degree in December 2005. In 2009, Derek was awarded the Coca-Cola Joseph B. Whitehead “Educator of Distinction Award” for “exemplary dedication to the field of education.” The recommendation for the award came from a student who nominated Derek as one of her most influential teachers.