Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

Connecting the world with data

Statistics teacher brings out students’ passion for math

After he worked at his first teaching job, math teacher Robert Igoe said a district staff member asked him if he would be interested in filling a vacancy at Prospect High School for a statistics class no one else wanted to teach.

“I was spending the summer in Zambia at the time, so on a whim, I threw some review books for statistics in my bag and was surprised by how much fun it was,” Igoe said.

Math teacher Robert Igoe said he enjoys helping students solve problems by using real-world scenarios. (Photo by Varun Vijay Mani)

After taking the job, Igoe said he soon realized he wanted to understand the subject further, leading him to pursue a master’s degree in statistics at CSU East Bay. 

Igoe said he taught AP statistics for 19 years, including eight years at Prospect and ten at Woodside. He now teaches enriched geometry and AP statistics at HHS.

Igoe said one of his most rewarding experiences in teaching was when he received a text from a student’s parents, saying their son did not previously like math. However, he was inspired by Igoe’s class and decided to major in statistics at UC Davis.

“That was the moment when I realized that my teaching could really impact people’s lives,” Igoe said.

Statistics student, senior Julian Ng Thow Hing said he finds it unique that Igoe starts every class with a warmup problem. 

“It helps me feel involved in the class and connected to other students,” Ng Thow Hing said. “When [I’m] really thinking deeply about a problem, I sometimes have an epiphany that broadens my understanding of statistics.”

Igoe also utilizes other teaching skills, such as having his students design an experiment and collect data as a way to explore their results. This allows them to see how statistics work in real life, he said.

Igoe said he believes the skills he teaches in statistics will play a vital role in almost every job.

“Just listen to the news for a week, and you’ll encounter a barrage of statistics,” Igoe said.  “Whether it’s a report on an experiment or study or the results of political polls, data is increasingly intertwined with our daily lives.” 

Many of Igoe’s students appreciate his strong will to teach statistics, especially senior Arnav Chakravarthy, a student in Igoe’s class.

“He’s very passionate about what he teaches and he often wants his students to be as passionate as him,” Chakravarthy said. “He’s eccentric but very welcoming.”

Embracing this welcoming approach, Igoe encourages students to give statistics a try by working with others through study groups. 

“Statistics especially is a lot more communication than math,” Igoe said. “….My biggest goal in teaching statistics is to help introduce students to the topic because I think pretty much every job now will involve data science.”

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