Tosh Demsey: Math Genius

Jordyn Ohashi, Reporter

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He is a weapon of math instruction.

The 2017-18 school year marks Tosh Demsey’s 17th year teaching and 11th year teaching at Clovis High.  Demsey grew up in the Central Valley, graduated from Sanger High, attended MIT for his undergraduate degree, and student taught at Edison High School. He has impacted many student’s lives while teaching Algebra 1 & 2, Math 3, and AP Calculus AB & BC.

“His willingness to go above and beyond to help me succeed made a lasting impression not only on me but my family as well,” said Johnny Martin, a previous student and now colleague of Demsey. “I’m honestly not even sure if I told him thank you for the work that he did but it was all greatly appreciated beyond words and I hope he knows that.”

When Martin was a sophomore in the ’08-’09 school year at CHS he was one of Demsey’s Algebra 2 students. The second semester of this year Martin was placed in a home hospital after he was diagnosed with cancer. Demsey sent work for Martin and would meet with him every Saturday at the Clovis Library to explain difficult concepts.  

Teaching difficult concepts seems easy when Demsey does it.

“He is very organized and that directly translates to all the students’ success, he made [notes] fun and  made it easier than it could have been,” said Jared Lemon, AP Calculus BC student from last year.

The video notes Demsey created are famous among math students. People who haven’t even had him as a teacher use and recommend his notes to those struggling in their math classes.  

“When I don’t understand a concept that we’re learning in class, it’s a good resource to be able to watch another teacher’s video to relearn it,” said Kat Bako, a student at University High. “I like his videos because Mr. Demsey explains why things happen instead of just teaching how to solve the problem.”

Demsey maintains a standard of excellence; his AP pass rates are usually 80% and above. Last year, the AP Calculus BC pass percentage was 77% and the AB subscore was 91%.  As for AP Calculus AB, the pass percentage was 80%. One of the techniques Demsey uses to prepare his students is requiring them to attend 10 hours of review and offering them more review hours for extra credit.  

“I had one year where all but one AB student passed,” said Demsey.

However, Demsey may have never become a teacher. At MIT he majored in Management Science, which is business with lots of math.  

“It took me a long time to figure out that teaching is what I was called to do,” said Demsey. “When you are trying to find what you want to do it’s kinda like you want to find a mix of what you think you are good at and what you think you are passionate about.”

In college he started to volunteer at elementary classrooms for community service hours which is where he started to grow his passion for teaching. This epiphany occured in college, but after reflecting on how he became a teacher he realized his path toward becoming a teacher started earlier.

“I started tutoring some of my friends in math and then some people started hiring me, even then I didn’t think about teaching,” said Demsey.

Now fully emerged in teaching, Demsey has created his own teaching philosophy.

“Teaching is a mix between the knowledge you are trying to impart to students as well as the background knowledge they already have,” he said. “Math is very logical. I want them to understand and hopefully appreciate the beauty of mathematics and how it is useful in our world.”

Not only is Demsey known for his excellent teaching skills he strives to be a good role model.  One of the quotes he draws inspiration from is by Theodore Roosevelt: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

He loves his job and genuinely wants to help his students, which many people have taken notice of.  

“He is one of my favorite teachers and I asked him to write my letter of recommendation for me,” said Lemon.

“One of the things I enjoyed most about his class is you could tell he loved his job and cared about his students and was willing to go the extra mile to help his students succeed in his class,” said Martin.


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Tosh Demsey: Math Genius