Faculty Spotlight: Dave Sanborn
Posted 04/29/2015 01:31PM

Meet Dave Sanborn, who teaches mathematics and is a sixth grade advisor and a basketball and tennis coach.


Q. What drew you to Fenn?

A. After two years teaching math at The Rectory School, I embarked on a five-month voyage around the world with Semester at Sea. Upon my return, I learned of an opening at Fenn and spent three years here, leaving for seven years of boarding school work elsewhere in Massachusetts and in Minnesota. But I wanted to come back to Fenn, and stayed in touch. I have an abiding appreciation for all that The Fenn School is. Now I’m finishing my tenth year and planning to stay.

Q. What do you enjoy most about teaching at Fenn?

A. Guiding small classes of spirited, engaged, hard-working students, working closely with committed, collaborative colleagues, communicating regularly with highly supportive parents, taking part in the broad maturation and lasting development that we see in our students as they rise through four, five, or six acutely formative years at Fenn.

Q. What do you hope to provide boys in your classes and what do you hope they take away?

A. I start with the premise that our mathematical work should be rigorous and meaningful. We will roll up sleeves and do the math and it will be useful math—methods of quantitative analysis that we can either use right now to solve real problems or that we need as a foundation for more powerful mathematics later. There are plenty of fun moments, yet also challenging ones and times that feel more like work than play. We’re not simply learning how to calculate efficiently; we’re learning how to model everyday situations in mathematical terms, how to reason thoroughly, how to formulate a robust justification for a solution, how to prove or disprove, and how to analyze rigorously rather than haphazardly. I hope the boys will come to realize that math is not an individualized race to assemble hasty mental shortcuts or memorize rules. They should be reassured that our math classes reward them for their persistent, thoughtful, willing, careful, and collaborative efforts.

Q. What are your passions or interests outside of teaching?

A. I’m always on the lookout to play soccer; every summer I spend time in my woodshop working on furniture projects; in the last few years I have engaged in the relatively hopeless New England tradition of battling woodchucks and deer in a little backyard vegetable garden—some of that garden produce actually finds its way to the kitchen, where I enjoy trying to cook—and I’ve always got a good book going.

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