Always adding more: How one math professor goes above and beyond

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s difficult to sum up what makes a good teacher, but the people at the Mathematics Association of America found a solution.

The award is a high honor for any math teacher in the north-central region, but this year’s winner isn’t letting this victory divide him from what truly matters.

The impact that Dr. Shawn Chiappetta has had at the University of Sioux Falls is hard to sum up.

“He’s really an inspiration to me and so many other faculty and students. The way he’s able to dedicate his time, his attention and his expertise to, really, all three levels: the students, to the institution, and to the profession as a whole,” USF Mathematics & Computer Scienc Professor Jason Dauma said.

He’s a professor that doesn’t limit himself to just solving problems in the classroom.

“He’s one of those professors that, all around, is there for his students, not only for the math aspect but every aspect of their life,” Student Emilee Gelineau said.

And sees winning the award as merely a plus for his efforts.

“It’s an affirmation that the things that I do are beneficial to the people around me. And I think that’s the most important thing: to be useful.” Chiappetta said

“My freshman year, I came in with no math and computer science background, and, so to come in, really nervous, and seeing everybody else kind of have that background, he was extremely helpful in giving me the confidence to be like, ‘Ok. I can stick it out and I can make it through these classes,” Gelineau said.

But he always factors in all the help he’s received on the way.

“Who I am as a teacher, who I am as a colleague, is a direct result from them. They encourage me, they… support the ideas that come through. They allow me to be myself, and they’re willing to have conversations of trying to make each other better,” Chiappetta said.

For Chiappetta, receiving this honor isn’t the solution, it’s only an addition to a much larger equation. 

“I’ve been teaching now for 17 years, and I feel like I’m just starting to understand what it is I do, and, so all it does for me is to say, “keep doing what you’re doing, keep growing, and we’ll see what happens in another 17 years,” Chiappetta said.

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