Chris Orlando, mathematics teacher at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, was the big winner at this year’s April 15 Champions for Children Gala, receiving the Teacher of the Year award and a chance to compete for Maryland Teacher of the Year.
Orlando is a big reason that advanced math is so popular at Bethesda-Chevy Chase. He teaches several sections of AP Calculus BC, one section of International Baccalaureate higher level mathematics and one section of multivariable calculus.
“Chris Orlando is the teacher we all wish we could have had in high school, and certainly the one we hope our children have today,” says Principal Sean Bulson. “Students respect him as a role model who mixes intelligence with charisma. He makes it cool to be smart.”
“There’s not one minute where I’m bored,” senior Jai Prased says. “He makes math fun. It was kind of a hard concept to grasp before I had Mr. Orlando.”
“I try to make every single lesson have some kind of application to something,” Orlando explains. That means lots of research, or calling friends in careers such as engineering to explain how they use mathematical concepts in their everyday lives. Orlando introduces the lessons by telling students where and how the concepts they’re learning are used.
Orlando motivates his students to achieve at high levels in his AP calculus classes. On the walls of his classroom are lists of the names of students who have received a perfect “5” on the exam. In 2002, there were five names. Last year, there were 45.