Beyond The Classroom
Meet CGA Teacher, Alekz Hirschmann. He strongly believes every student has a brilliance. Education is an opportunity for each student to define and refine that gift for the benefit of the student and the community that surrounds the student.
He graduated from Duke University in 1985. Before he became a teacher 5 years ago, he led a multinational manufacturing company as the CEO. He is passionate about invention and innovation. He was selected as one of the top high school teachers of invention in 2019 by MIT and the Lemelson Foundation. He has several patents in his name including a chemical material used by many manufacturers around the world.
He is an iPEC executive coach which he uses to help each student find their best selves and best performance (a handy skill during the disruption of COVID). He loves teaching Physics because is it a tangible subject . . . he frequently conducts demonstrations and labs to reinforce the learning in the class (soccer balls and tennis balls - and sometimes eggs are often used as props in the classroom).
A: I am an inventor. I hold several patents for a product that has revolutionized an entire industry. This technology is currently used by manufacturers around the world. I am an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is a visionary, a person who can see a potential that is not there today. An entrepreneur is a dreamer who can see a solution where others see no present problem.
I was formerly the CEO of a multinational manufacturing and sales company. As a seasoned, C level executive, I believe that the success of an organization is rooted in leadership which empowers team and community. My training as an iPEC executive coach has given me an entirely new set of tools to my skill set to be a stronger leader and mentor. I believe in supporting the team to operate as a unit towards common, clearly established goals. As a board member, I believe an important role is to help the school develop strategic partnerships and collaborating with influencers to further grow and to expand an organizations footprint.
As an education disruptor, I seek out innovations that have demonstrated impact upon student success, making world class education available to all students, regardless of geography, demographics or ability. I chose to step back from the corporate career to make an impact in my community, sharing this vast corporate experience into a new role as a teacher (design, engineering and entrepreneurship, science) and education leader as well as a mentor to startups in corporate and non-profit environment.
A: The transition from the industrial model of education is long overdue. Technology allows us to focus on the individual student. Success is measured by mastery of a subject, not seat time. Technology allows all students, regardless of demographics or geography, to receive a world-class education.
A: It is important to ensure a connection between the student and the topics covered in the lessons. I always endeavor to connect a topic to the student’s real-life experience. If we are covering CENTRIPETAL FORCES in Physics class, we bring the topic back to driving a car on a highway off-ramp or twirling a yo-yo around. It is important for the student to “see” the topic.
A: At CGA, each student is an individual, traveling through their learning journey at his/her individual pace. The student is in the center of the CGA model, rather than the teacher centric model of traditional schools. The educator is guiding the student rather than teaching the student.
A: Celebrating the successes of each student, whether that is a strong result on a quiz or test or an achievement outside of class. I have two students who are highly achieving athletes. I enjoy hearing them share with their classmates about their successes and challenges.
A: The most important result of education is to discover where your brilliance is and then spend lots of time becoming the best at it. Confidence in yourself and your abilities is the most important quality you can develop.
Learning a subject like Physics is like learning a language. Fluency is achieved with time and practice. Cramming before a test or exam may produce a singular good result on a test, but the learning is often fleeting and easily lost. Like eating dinner, “smaller bites more frequently” will make the learning more fun and more productive.
I have been fortunate to have traveled extensively around the world, visiting the 7 continents (there are only 6 if you studied geography in Europe or Argentina). I enjoy meeting people and learning about their cultures and traditions. This served me well as a salesperson working with customers around the world. It has also helped build a multicultural family here at home.
Another benefit of my travels, while hiking in Antarctica, I named 2 glaciers and 2 mountains after myself. (This was not official . . . but since no one had ever walked on my path before in the history of humanity, I thought it was a good idea!!)