Teacher Feature: Kurt Mahan, Brownsville Area School District
Kurt Mahan may be in his inaugural year of teaching the Inventionland Institute Curriculum, but he’s no stranger to the classroom or the world of business. Mahan, whose class list includes courses such as Intro to Business, Entrepreneurship, Banking and Personal Finance, Computer Applications, Marketing and Product Development, Broadcasting and Video Production, and Advanced Career Preparation, was a natural fit to lead his students through the ILI curriculum for the Brownsville Area School District. He’s been teaching for nine years after a successful career in the business field. We spoke to him about his experiences so far using the Inventionland Institute Curriculum.
Inventionland Institute (ILI): This is your first year using the ILI curriculum. Tell us about your experience so far.
Kurt Mahan (KM): The curriculum is really great. The students really seem to respond and they love how interactive the course is.
ILI: What do your students find most interesting about the curriculum?
KM: They really get excited about doing the activities, but I also see their interest in designing and building something that they have created.
ILI: What inspired you to become a teacher?
KM: I really enjoy helping people and when I was in the business field I worked with people and had people work for me that never got the education they should have had for many reasons. I always thought about teaching, but when I was in high school we didn’t have a business department. When I realized that I could help students become more prepared for the business world I knew that was what I wanted to do.
ILI: December is sometimes a tough month to keep kids motivated because winter break is just around the corner. What do you do to make sure your students stay focused?
KM: It definitely is and to be honest sometimes it’s hard for teachers to stay motivated as well. I try to arrange my classes so the students are doing a lot of “hands-on” work during this time. This practical application tends to get students more involved and keeps them on track.
ILI: How familiar were you with the technology used in the ILI curriculum? What advice would you give teachers who are teaching a new curriculum or may have the opportunity to use new technologies in their classroom?
KM: As a business and information technology teacher, I use technology all the time so I am quite comfortable with it. The biggest advice I would give to teachers trying to use something new for the first time is the same thing I tell my students: Don’t be afraid to fail. If it only took one time to master something it probably wasn’t worth mastering. In the long run, learning something new pays off.
ILI: Most memorable experience about the ILI curriculum so far?
KM: When we were doing one of the activities, I was walking around checking on the different groups. I had one student stop me and say, “You know Mr. Mahan, this class is pretty cool.” This may not seem like a lot, but when you are dealing with teenagers all day any small compliment is a really big thing. It just shows how much the students enjoy the curriculum.
ILI: Do you run any activities/clubs at your school?
KM: I run the TV/Video Production club.
ILI: Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you go to school? Any hobbies/fascinating facts you want to share?
KM: I went to Indiana State University where I got my B.S. in Business Management. After graduating I worked for both large and small businesses and I think there are tremendous positives in both. I have been an Advertising Manager, a Project Manager, a Sales Manager, and an Account Executive to name a few. When I decided to go back to school I went to Robert Morris University where I received my Master’s Degree in Business Education. I love spending time with my three children and if I ever have any free time I like to golf.
ILI: What does 21st Century teaching mean to you?
KM: It means preparing students with the necessary hard AND soft skills that employers are looking for in order to better prepare them for college or career after graduating.