Jeff Baumgartner

Jeff Baumgartner
Mathematics faculty
Phone 620-327-8131
Office Charles Hall C17
  • B.A., Mathematics, Bethel College, North Newton, Kan.
  • M.Ed., Mathematics Education, Millersville University, Millersville, Pa.
  • Certificate of Theology, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries, Elkhart, Ind.

Affiliated Departments or Programs

Personal Statement

I first became interested in teaching when, as a student, I was a problem session leader in Statistics at Bethel College. It felt good to hear students say after class that they felt like they understood at the end of the session what they had not understood at the beginning of the session. While it is not always enjoyable for either the student or teacher, the struggle with a problem and learning the perseverance to keep trying to solve a problem actually energizes me as a teacher. To see students gain self confidence as problem solvers and discover they can, without the constant guide of a teacher, understand new ideas and solve problems themselves is a joy to me.

I also enjoy learning and an important part of teaching is to be continually learning.

Professional Affiliations

  • Member of National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1991- present
  • Member of Mathematical Association of America, 1997-2005, 2007-present.
  • Member of Hesston College faculty council 1999 - 2001.
  • AP Calculus Exam Reader and table leader for other readers since 1998.
  • Convener of Mathematics curriculum meeting for Lancaster Area Council of Mennonite Schools (LACMS), fall 1996. Member of Technology committee 1995-96.
  • Member of Math (high school) textbook evaluation committee 1994-95.
  • Chair of Mathematics Textbook evaluation committee for LACMS, spring 1994.
  • Problem session leader for Elementary Statistics course, four semesters, and Intermediate Algebra course, one semester, Bethel College, 1983-85.
  • Three summers at Camp Friedenswald, Cassopolis, Mich., as a counselor, lifeguard, and maintenance. 1983-85.

Courses Taught

  • MaSc 50 Basic Math
  • MaSc 115 Precalculus Math
  • MaSc 116 Introduction to Mathematics
  • MaSc 141 Calculus
  • MaSc 142 Calculus II
  • MaSc 241 Calculus III
  • MaSc 242 Differential Equations

In Addition …

How did you choose to study math?

I enjoyed Math, especially geometry, in high school and decided to continue studying math in college. I enjoy Math because it is both an art (similar in creativity and freedom to create—like jazz) and a science, with practical applications. Studying Math can help one become a better problem solver in general, not just in the particular discipline of Mathematics. I also enjoy helping other people understand something new, which is one of the main reasons I decided to become a teacher.

What about teaching energizes you?

I first became interested in teaching when, as a student, I was a problem session leader in Statistics at Bethel College. It felt good to hear students say after class that they felt like they understood at the end of the session what they had not understood at the beginning of the session. While it is not always enjoyable for either the student or teacher, the struggle with a problem and learning the perseverance to keep trying to solve a problem actually energizes me as a teacher. To see students gain self confidence as problem solvers and discover they can, without the constant guide of a teacher, understand new ideas and solve problems themselves is a joy to me.

I also enjoy learning and an important part of teaching is to be continually learning.

How does your background and educational experience shape your teaching at Hesston?

My family includes many teachers. My father and three of his four siblings as well as the spouses of those three were all educators. Growing up on a farm made me realize the practical applications of math. I once had a student who thought that farmers should study math as it related to farming, carpenters should study math relating to building, etc. I agree that math should be taught in a useful, practical way when possible. My education has helped me realize the power of the logic and language of math as well. We may learn applications of math or at least the power of the logic and language of math in ways we never would have imagined as we learn more.

While I have lived in the Midwest most of my life, I have also lived in several other areas which I feel shape my teaching at Hesston College. My wife and I lived and worked for three years in Egypt under the auspices of Mennonite Central Committee, working as teachers in both an elementary school and at summer institutes for adults. I enjoy having international students in my classes and watching students from different cultures learn from each other. My family and I also lived in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania for eight years. While Pennsylvania is not too different from Kansas (ok, Kansas is flatter), I have some understanding about how students from a distance feel about traveling and studying far from home.

Who are your role models or mentors? How have they influenced you?

People who have influenced my faith are parents, of course, as well as my wife and our children. I have learned quite a bit about myself and faith through my children. I would also mention persons of faith in the Bible and Martyrs' Mirror as mentors in my faith. These people have helped me keep faith when I have had my own struggles.

Persons who have been mentors in my teaching and my discipline are Dr. Arnold Wedel and Dr. Richard Rempel at Bethel College, Dr. Frank Brenneman at Tabor College and Dr. Ron Umble at Millersville University (who also taught at Hesston College years ago). I obviously learned a great deal of math from these professors, but I also learned a great deal about teaching from each of them and in different ways. I worked for Dr. Wedel as a problem session leader for several semesters. I learned ideas for grading, teaching and working with students. I have appreciated Dr. Brenneman for his listening and his good advice. I should also mention that Dr. Jim Yoder has been a mentor as well in my approach to teaching and working as a member of the faculty at Hesston College.

Where do alumni go and what do they do after Hesston?

Since I started teaching at Hesston in 1997 I have had students go on to study engineering at Colorado School of Mines, Drexel University, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Kansas State, Messiah College, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pittsburg State, and Rose Hulman. I have had students continue in math education at Eastern Mennonite University and Kansas State.

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