Ethan Troy, CLASS OF 2007
Ethan Troy graduated from University High School in 2007 and afterward attended Butler University. He currently lives in Colorado and works as a math teacher. Below, Ethan answers a few questions about being a teacher and how University prepared him for college and beyond.
What have you been up to since leaving University?
I graduated Butler University in 2011 and spent one year teaching at Brownsburg East Middle School (6th grade science & social studies). I then accepted a job at Pikes Peak School of Expeditionary Learning (6th, 7th, and 8th grade math) in Colorado Springs, CO. At this job I met my wife, and we taught together for seven years. We had our first child in 2015. Alex, our son, is almost five and will be starting kindergarten next year. He is currently enrolled in pre-kindergarten at the school I work at now – Pikes Peak Christian School. I teach 6th-12th grade math and am offering an elective class on mindfulness with a side order of ultimate frisbee.
I spend my extra time reading, rock climbing, and biking. My son is super into Hot Wheels, so we build some sweet tracks for slow motion videos and stop motion animation.
How do you feel University best prepared you for college and life beyond?
I’m currently teaching in a small school, and my wife still works at the public school I used to teach at. I can honestly say that there is nothing more valuable than the small class sizes. I’m able to be available to my students as more than just a teacher of academic content. These types of relationships were modeled at University by my teachers, and even if I wasn’t as receptive as I could have been, I still remember my teachers being willing to be there. It honestly felt like my teachers wanted to know me, and that’s what I give to my students. The bar for great teaching was set in my youth, and I use it as a precedent for excellence every day. Something else that University taught me was the value of community. Morning meetings, the J-Term experience, sports, and the general vibe of the staff conveyed how important it is that we all pursue a connection with one another.
Do you see that the core values you learned at University still apply to your life now? How?
High school can be some of the most formative years of your life, and it’s definitely a “get what you put in” situation. I remember spending a lot of time avoiding the work that was assigned to me or doing the minimum so that I could spend the rest of my time lost in video games or some other form of escapism. I had some special teachers who kept reaching out to me, reminding me of what I was capable of, encouraging me when I felt as though there wasn’t much to be excited about. So I suppose a core value that I witnessed when I was in school and that I attempt to emulate now is compassion. Speaking from experience, it’s so easy to let a student come in, teach the material, and let them leave without truly reaching out to connect your life with theirs. I’m thankful that it was modeled to me in the past, so that I could pay it forward today.
How did what you learned at University prepare you for this challenging year as a teacher?
I remember that University was all about diversity and mutual respect. This year has provided a challenge that we are all encountering together. To assume that we should all respond to this in the same way is naive, and I try to remember that every day poses a potential moment of loss for a multitude of rites of passage and the emotions that connect to them. Getting your driver’s license, birthday parties, school dances, basketball games, dating – the list goes on. How many of these classic experiences are stolen? I have so much respect for students who have to simultaneously “make the most” of whatever version of those events they get to experience and grieve the loss of what could have been. I also have much respect for those who are openly talking about mental health as a part of this entire process. This has been a year to allow us to more honestly speak about our emotions and our experience, and I hope that it inspires necessary changes in how we approach education, our spending of time, and the tolerance of everyone’s current struggle. This has been a struggle for all of us. I come to work every day with a little more grace and mercy for just about everything because I think we could all use it.
Now that you are a teacher what would you like to say to your teachers at University?
To all my teachers, something I’ve really found peace with this year is completely embracing the thought that sometimes we will never see the fruit of our labor. As a novice teacher I knew of this fact, but it still was a struggle when I poured time and energy into students only to perceive an apparent plateau or even fade of achievement. Though, I also think I should have widened my scope and realized growth could be happening that I just haven’t witnessed, or it will happen in time. I don’t know if I ever thought to come back and thank my teachers for all that they did, but it may be because the gift you gave me is so large that no thank you would be adequate. I recently told my mom that her giving me the experience at this school was one of the greatest things she could have ever done for me. I would have been lost in one of the local large public high schools. University helped me develop my voice, my strength, and my abilities to pursue success in the real world.
What would you say to current students?
Going to this school or any small school has the opportunity to be one of the most positively encouraging experiences of your entire life. When you’re older, it’s unlikely you will have a team of professionals truly interested in bettering you as a person. This truly is a once in a lifetime experience, because once it’s over, it’s over. I was very shy in high school, and mostly kept to myself as I struggled to understand my place in the world, and in life. Now I wish I had asked more questions to the people whose opinion I valued. Ask them the tough questions, and if they don’t know, find out together. If you haven’t done so recently, thank your parents or whoever is supporting you going to this school, because they are giving you a very expensive and valuable gift that will forever be a gift of privilege. I wrestled with the thought of why I had been given so much, when others didn’t have the same opportunities. The answer is simple: from everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be expected. This responsibility to be entrusted with these gifts is something you should accept and pursue with honor. I wish you the best, and keep challenging yourself to reach higher and higher.