Mathematics master Mr. Michael Tapee thrives when it comes to sparking young learners’ interest in STEM. His passion for creating exciting, authentic project-based learning experiences plays a pivotal role in the success of his sixth and seventh grade students. Tapee is exceptionally skilled at connecting mathematical concepts with real-world situations. Lessons on proportional relationships are shared through video calls with a guest speaker from NASA. Geometric concepts, such as trajectory, are explored through a rocket-building project. Each year, he guides students through designing apartment floor plans and determining the appropriate rent after various composite area calculations, then 3D-printing their designs to take home. Tapee’s hands-on teaching approach consistently yields impactful results; his students show consistently high average yearly growth on the MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) assessment as well as consistently high test scores, often reaching a proficiency level of at least 85%.
Tapee is known for his co-creation and development of Hellstern’s Herobotics program, a competitive robotics team designed to help students pursue STEM outside of the classroom. His growing team regularly qualifies for state competitions and has won several championships.
Hellstern Middle School’s culture is collaborative, inclusive and fun thanks in large part to Tapee’s efforts. He has fostered a supportive learning environment by taking on various leadership roles: team-leading Hellstern’s guiding coalition, organizing back-to-school adult learning exercises, leading professional development seminars, speaking at education conferences, contributing to student success podcasts and building Hellstern’s Year in Review for families and community members. Tapee instills an appreciation for learning through trial and error among his students and colleagues while leading with a positive growth mindset. His dedication to student success extends far beyond his own students; he frequently speaks in classes at his alma mater, the University of Arkansas, and often works with the next generation of aspiring teachers.
Tapee earned a bachelor’s in history and a mathematics minor in 2015 from the University of Arkansas, as well as a master’s in teaching in 2016. In 2023, he completed an education specialist program with a concentration in educational leadership and principalship from Arkansas State University.
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