Coach of the Week - Yalcin Udun
Sonoran Science Academy - Broadway
Yalcin Udun, a teacher at Sonoran Science Academy - Broadway, was nominated as a MATHCOUNTS Coach of the Week by one of his former students.
Oshadha Gunasekara submitted the following nomination:
I would like to nominate my old coach, Yalcin Udun, as coach of the week. He helped me to overcome my fears of math competitions, strengthen my mathematical skills and understanding, and help me to become a better person overall. He did all of these while maintaining a positive attitude. We even had many fun times!
Now here's a story. In 6th grade, I competed in MATHCOUNTS with my team at Sonoran Science Academy - Broadway. I placed at around 32nd place at the regional competition and our team placed 5th. We did not make it to the State competition.
However, with the countless hours spent by Mr. Yalcin to coach us, the next year's competition started to come near. I was beginning to feel very nervous. Mr. Yalcin encouraged me and told me that I could do it. His motivation was the key to my success. In the regional competition, our team placed second and I placed third. Our team made it to state! We were overjoyed! After the competition, we went to eat ice cream, which became a small tradition, to this day.
Mr. Yalcin continued to motivate us to do well in the State Competition. When anyone thought that they would not do well in the state competition he would disagree and say that they CAN do it. Then, the day came. It was the state competition. Our team placed in the top four and after the countdown round, I was 4th place and I had made Nationals!
The same happened when I was in 8th grade. I made nationals again! All thanks to the help of my math coach, Mr. Yalcin.
All this time, however, was not just spent doing math. It was also spent having fun and socializing! In the summer of my 7th grade year, Mr. Yalcin invited me and the math team to spend a month in Turkey. We spent the first week in Yamanlar, a Turkish high school, solving around 1000 geometry problems and vastly improving our understanding of Geometry. We spent the next two weeks vacationing and exploring Turkey! It was one of the best experiences I've ever had!
Now I'm in High School and his countless hours spent coaching, teaching, and advice are helping me to endure the hardships and work of high school. I am currently a freshman taking Trigonometry and I find the concepts very easy to understand. All due to the amazing Yalcin Udun.
How long have you been a MATHCOUNTS coach?
This is my fourth year.
What is your favorite part about being a MATHCOUNTS coach?
You get to see students who want to learn more and are engaged in math frequently. Additionally being able to help them out to sharpen their problem-solving skills in a casual setting, after school or on weekends. Just seeing all the bright students is uplifting.
Which MATHCOUNTS programs do you participate in?
The competition and club program this year. Hopefully, The Reel Math Challenge next year!
What interesting techniques have you used in the classroom or after school with your students to get them excited about math?
I get a lot of help from previous National MATHCOUNTS attendees. They come and volunteer after school at my club. Additionally we attend Math Circle every week at the University of Arizona. However, a very key feature to the club is the curriculum, which is a two-year MATHCOUNTS oriented program (prepared by Accord Institute).
Why do you think math is so important for middle school students?
At a younger age it is a lot easier to shape students’ skills and math comprehension, alongside of being vastly more effective because in the future math will help them greatly with things like:
-The ability to identify and analyze patterns
-Logic and critical thinking skills
-Ability to see relationships
-Problem solving skills.
Do you have any advice for students who participate in MATHCOUNTS?
Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice makes all the difference; all the MATHCOUNTS school handbooks are there for a reason. Do as many problems as you can, and then some.
What advice would you give to new coaches just starting a MATHCOUNTS Program?
Make it fun but at the same time give it a meaning.
Nominate a Teacher for Coach of the Week
Do you know of a teacher or volunteer who goes above and beyond to coach a MATHCOUTS team? We are looking for nominations for Coach of the Week. If you would like to nominate someone, please email us at email@example.com with Coach of the Week in the subject line. Provide a short paragraph on why you think this person should be the Coach of the Week. We will notify both you and the coach if your nominee is chosen.
The coach will be profiled on mathcounts.org and on the MATHCOUNTS Facebook and Twitter pages!