IHS has welcomed more than 25 talented, new teachers this school year. Matthew Prokosch is one of the new social studies teachers. Mr. Prokosch engaged in Q&A, sharing insight about himself.
Q: Where did you grow up and how did you come to be in Ithaca?
MP: I grew up in New Hartford, NY, which is a suburb of Utica. After graduating from New Hartford Senior High School, I attended Ithaca College where I majored in Social Studies Education with a minor in the Honors Program. I student taught at Boynton Middle School under the mentorship of the incredible Keith Harrington, Dean of Freshmen at IHS. After that student teaching experience, I knew I wanted to come back to ICSD to teach. After graduating from Ithaca College in 2013, I went straight to graduate school at the University of St. Andrews (the university that Prince William and Kate Middleton attended) in Scotland where I received my Master of Letters in Modern European History. After I finished my master’s degree, I went back to New Hartford where I was a long-term substitute, teaching 11th grade US history. Upon completing the 2014-2015 school year at New Hartford, I was immensely fortunate to be hired by ICSD to teach 9th and 10th grade Global History.
Q: What is one reason you became a teacher?
MP: When I was in high school, I was very close with two of my social studies teachers. They were and continued to help me grow as a student - and, still help me to grow now as an educator. This made me realize that teachers have the unique ability to help students achieve their dreams. I want to have that same influence upon students.
Q: What is unique about your teaching style?
MP: This isn’t unique by any means, but I’ve been quite successful at establishing strong rapport with all of my students. When they enter my classroom, they know that I’m there to engage them in historical inquiry, but also help them grow as people. One of the most important skills that I try to teach students is how to be comfortable in your own shoes. I model this by showing my overt, nerdy love for history with a strong side of a self-deprecating sense of humour. Eventually, my classroom environment morphs into a space where students engage in discussion of difficult topics like race, genocide, and sexism without fear of judgement.
Q: How do you plan on implementing the chromebooks in your classroom?
MP: It’s already begun! All of my students are signed up for Google Classroom. I upload digital copies of all homework that I pass out in class. I use the “ask a question” section of Google Classroom as quick formative assessment at the end of class. I’ve replaced the traditional “ticket out” with the question feature of Google Classroom and the students love it. Additionally, I create “extension activities” each week for students to complete when they have finished all of the required in-class work. I can’t take credit for this, though. I stole this idea from Ms. Wallisch.
Q: What are your hobbies outside of school?
MP: It’s cliche, but I love travelling. Additionally, I’m a portrait and wedding photographer, but I enjoy travel photography the most. The combination of being a photographer who loves travelling has given me a strong case of perpetual wanderlust. So far, I’ve lived in Italy and Scotland, and have travelled to nine countries.
Q: If you could join a club or co-advise a club, what would it be?
MP: Model UN and the photography club (does that exist?)! I did MUN throughout high school and at Ithaca College, and photography is my biggest passion after teaching.
Q: If you could do something other than teaching, what would it be and why?
MP: I’m not sure I could do something else that didn’t involve teaching in some way! I have found teaching from September to June and photographing weddings in the summer to be a perfect combination for my lifestyle. I’ve also, considered teaching social studies abroad so that could be an option.
Q: What is the most challenging component about being a new teacher at IHS?
MP: Like any new job, I’m still adjusting to the rules and procedures of IHS. Still, it’s been an easy adjustment thanks to our exceptional department chair, Phil Jordan, and the rest of the “Social Studs.”
Q: Anything else you would like the Ithaca High School Community to know about yourself?
MP: I enjoy nerdy jokes and bad puns!