When Am I Going To Use This?

Students–how often during a lesson or unit of study do you ask yourself or even ask the teacher “when am I going to use this?” Today’s post from assistant principal Brian Sackett explores how your teachers have found practical uses for what they learned in high school:


A few years ago I was fortunate enough to take a trip to the Dominican Republic over Spring Break.  It was amazing: the beaches, the coconuts, the unbelievable sunburn I took home as a souvenir.  Everything was simply great.  The only hiccup in my trip was on my way back to the airport in Punta Cana, the bus on which I was riding broke down.  My flight was leaving in an hour and I needed to be on it.  My bus driver spoke no English, so I had to lean on the Spanish my high school teachers had taught me in order to successfully figure out what was going on, get the driver to call for a cab, and converse with the taxi driver to take me where I needed to go.  Without my Spanish teachers’ persistence and passion in teaching me the language, I might still be in the Dominican Republic, desperately searching for aloe vera for my charred skin.

I share this story to demonstrate that, at a very real and scary moment in my life, I had a practical use for something I had learned in high school (however extreme this situation may have been).  Often students will ask, “When will I ever need to use this in the real world?” when studying various subjects.  The answer is, “You never know!”  And sometimes the answer is, “More often than you might think!” To prove my point, I spoke with teachers from every department and asked them when they use something they learned in high school in their daily lives.  The catch: they had to pick a subject other than something they teach.  Check it out:

Ms. Paula Roberts, Math Teacher, uses English/Language Arts: I don’t believe a day goes by that I don’t apply concepts that I learned in my English classes in high school.  Most particularly, I would say the class I use knowledge from the most is the English Grammar and Composition class that I took as my second English class my senior year.  The class taught me all the rules of grammar that I consider constantly when writing emails to parents and fellow teachers.  I am extremely aware of the proper way someone should speak on a daily basis because of that class and am thankful to Mrs. Flanagan for teaching it to me!

Mr. Matt Stump, English Teacher, uses CTE (Career Technology Education): There are so many times I use concepts from CTE.  I have spreadsheets that I use to help balance my monthly budget.   My family has adjusted our payment cycles so we don’t deplete our finances during specific pay periods.  We shop around for deals that have good rewards, low interest, etc.  We use automatic deductions whenever possible to make sure bills get paid.  I also use engineering skills when completing small projects around the house like creating shelving or bigger projects like landscaping and installing a new shed. Engineering skills have played a role in figuring out the amount of lumber needed, which tools to use, and how to construct items.  I also use YouTube frequently to see how to complete many of these projects.

Mr. Nick Zaron, CTE Teacher, uses FACS (Family and Consumer Science): Life moves fast; it feels like yesterday I was enjoying the unlimited meal plan as a senior in college, able to eat anything I wanted, whenever I wanted, however I wanted.  Nowadays I don’t have the luxury of walking down to the dining hall or Chik-fil-A on campus and swiping my student card without a worry about costs, grocery shopping, or planning out meals for the week.

More than ever I have realized the importance of a balanced nutrition and the planning it requires.  Not only is it important to understand how nutrition and food works, but it’s important to recognize what my body and mind require for me to have energy both mentally and physically to live a healthy life.  I was able to understand these important concepts from my Food and Nutrition courses back in high school.  Still to this day I think about the ‘color wheel’ of my plate or whether or not I am getting the correct amount of energy from my daily meals.

Ms. Achint Kaur, FACS Teacher, uses Science: Oh I could go on!  I’m always digging up my knowledge of science in everyday things like health, food safety, or selecting products that are safe for my family and pets. Whether it is choosing a nutritious recipe or deciding to buy organic, I like to understand the “why” and science has the answers.  From waking up in the morning and checking the weather forecast, using the appropriate force and angle to use a knife safely while I chop fruits, adding a drop of oil to prevent a broth from boiling over, to finding out the effects of a medication or a chemical used in the yard,  science is an integral a part of my life.

Mr. Marcantonio, Science Teacher, uses Art: My first home was an older Baltimore row home that was in need of a lot of work; however, my wife and I wanted to maintain many of the unique charms of the 100 year old home.  Being able to make perspective sketches allowed us to plan renovations and be able to see how modern changes would merge with the existing aesthetics of the home.

Mr. Jeff Hensley, Art Teacher, uses Math: Math is involved throughout the entirety of my artistic practice starting from the very beginning.  I use it to measure out the stretchers for my canvases, and when the paintings are completed and being installed in a gallery, I have to give detailed mathematical instructions on how each piece should be hung and lit on the wall.

Ms. Masami Stratton, Social Studies Teacher, uses PE/Health:  SO many applications of Physical & Health Ed to real life! An active life helps you relieve stress; maintaining a healthy balance between physical & the mental work helps the body operate at its optimum. I learned the basics in school (K-12), but really learned it as an adult as I applied it daily to my life. I remember how I gained confidence as I learned new sports and started to play them well.  I am now helping coach my daughter’s rec field hockey team and LOVING every minute!

Mr. Josh McGoun, PE Teacher, uses World Languages: Oh man – this was a good memory for me.  I was working on my sweet, sweet ’94 Camaro’s new tachometer. The problem was – the instructions in English were trashed from knocking over old oil. I couldn’t find anything online so by using the Spanish instructions, and some translating help from Google, I was able to get it working. I’ll never forget that experience as it was part of a whole weekend putting the car back together after the engine basically blew itself up. It was the accomplishment of the entire rebuild.

Ms. Jennifer Borgerding, World Languages Teacher, uses Social Studies: To me, social studies is the study of how and why countries, cultures and people function and interact with one another.  It comes up daily in my understanding of the local, national and international news and it oftentimes spurs passionate debates in the lunch room among colleagues. It is present in every French lesson since culture and language are inseparable. It influences my voting decisions and the choices I make as an American citizen and consumer.  It influences how I act and relate to people abroad.  Countries, cultures and people are always changing, so it’s a good thing that I love to learn.


Do you have a great story of how you use the knowledge and skills you learned in high school? Share it in the comments!

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