His students would describe him as one of the funniest, most intelligent, and highly respected math teachers in VHS But Jonathan Thai doesn’t necessarily see himself this way. Describing his past self as “awkward and wacky,” he sees his teaching style to be directed to what students want, and he bases this off his past experiences.
When asked if he always knew his career path, he said that he always knew he wanted to do something with math since his senior year of high school. During that year, he had an AP Calculus class that changed his perception of teachers and mathematics as a whole.
“My teacher was so amazing and pushed me in that direction to take after him and do what he did,” he says. His next year, as a freshman in college, he decided to major in mathematics with a teaching career “in the front of his mind.” After his college years, he went straight into working at VHS as an Algebra and Geometry teacher.
Mr. Thai has always been a huge fan of tennis. He played it himself since his sophomore year of high school at Belleville and says “I loved the competition and knew that I wanted to coach some time.”
When he came to work at VHS, both of the spots for tennis coaches were full. He even tried to volunteer to help for tennis events but that was unsuccessful as well. In the third year, the JV spot opened up; he interviewed, got the job, and led the JV team for a year. But as many of you know, he’s now the varsity tennis coach. He says this came to be in an odd way: “In my second full year coaching, the head coach called me up the day before practices started and told me she was leaving and that the varsity position was mine if I wanted it. He obviously accepted, started in the fall of 2015, and he’s been coaching varsity tennis for eight years since.
Being in Verona has been an amazing experience for Mr. Thai. He personally believes that the community that we have is like no other.
“It is now year number 11 for me, and seeing students in the classroom and then out, especially with tennis, you get to see their personality better and have a lot of fun.” But, it’s not just the student body that Mr. Thai likes about Verona. The people that he works with are a great benefit to working here as well.
“Everyone is so closely knit and rooting for each other that it makes it enjoyable to come to work and spend time with each other. We bounce ideas off each other and collaborate even if our subjects and classes don’t coordinate. There’s no egos or competition, everyone is just there to help each other.” He was also asked if he had any drawbacks or things he disliked about Verona in any aspect. He replied with a firm no.
Asked if there’s any saying or mantra he lives his own life by, Mr. Thai said:
“Don’t be afraid to be weird.”