Monday, June 19, 2006

Changes on tap at Thomas Jefferson

Leonard Kupersmith, longtime head of school at Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School, is out, and has been replaced by William Carter, the school's longtime principal, according to a news release that has been posted on the Joplin Daily website.
The news release left the circumstances of Kupersmith's departure unclear. "The former Head of School, Dr. Leonard Kupersmith, is pursuing other opportunities."
What is evident is that Thomas Jefferson is beating the bushes looking for students. I have heard several radio ads with parents and former students extolling the virtues of the school and encouraging parents to enroll their students. This is the first time I can recall such a major advertising campaign for Thomas Jefferson.
The news release also indicates that recruitment is going to be a major concern for Carter.
Kupersmith had placed an advertisement June 12 with The Chronicle of Higher Education seeking a director of advancement for Thomas Jefferson. The ad read:

Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School, Joplin, MO Pre-K - 12 college prep, fully accredited member of ISACS, seeks a Director of Advancement, with primary duties of student recruitment and development leadership. Candidate should possess:
Initiative, drive, persistence, excellent communication skills, strong organizational skills, outstanding collaborative abilities


Anonymous said...

They need students because the tuition is way too high and they really really do not want just anyone to go there, only certain types need apply.

Anonymous said...

The ad they posted earlier is to replace Tracy Skaggs, who wanted to spend more time with her family.

Anonymous said...

Humphreys would like the school to at least break even. Millenium is already a big enough tax write-off...can you imagine how much money that place loses every year?

Anonymous said...

It is expensive. And only certain types need apply. Types that care about more than sports, are willing to have homework every night, and don't care to dress like a gang banger for school.

Anonymous said...

No, not types that just want homework and don't care to dress like a gang banger, types that have the "right" last name. My children do not go to public school but there is a difference between private school for higher education and private school for the elite few, and that is what they want so why do the they advertise? The elite do not listen to regular radio or watch Joplin TV. If I lived in Joplin it would be hard to find a school that would provide the education I seek for my children.

Anonymous said...

I feel no sadness if their uppitiness is going to hell in a handbasket.

Anonymous said...

How very cold of you, have you no feelings or is condemnation all your about?

Anonymous said...

Jealousy and envy are such ugly monsters....

Anonymous said...

It seems as though some people are rather jealous of the school. I find it somewhat absurd to comment on what type of people are admitted to the school, when it's quite clear you have no idea. The opinions you are spouting are sheer ignorance. As an alumnus of TJ, I am quite sure that there is no bias in admission, save the willingness to put forth some effort. My family does not have a "right last name" as you phrase it, nor are we one of the "elite." We are upper-middle class, and we wanted to be able get a quality education. That is what I received, and for that I am grateful.

Anonymous said...


Leon said...

I always dislike reading ignorant comments, especially when those comments come from the bias of the “class conflict” ideology. Momof3, I’m not going to claim that you are jealous of TJ. I just feel that you are willfully ignorant and biased on the subject. As the poster above said, it is absurd to comment on the type of people that are admitted. As an alumnus of TJ, I can tell you obviously have no idea.

To quote you further, “My children do not go to public school but there is a difference between private school for higher education and private school for the elite few, and that is what they want so why do [they] advertise? The elite do not listen to regular radio or watch Joplin TV.” A few questions… What is the difference between a school for the elite few and a school for higher education? Does TJ’s academic record not establish itself in the latter camp? Furthermore, on what basis do you claim this “elite few” do not listen to regular radio or watch Joplin TV? I would think your next sentence (on why they are advertising) would cause some reflection on your argument’s foundation (why would the school advertise, if I believe it is only for an elite few?).

I will tell you now, personally knowing those involved with the school, there is a passion for higher education. They believe in rigorous curriculum, and providing quality education that prepares students for college. There is very little bias based on class, but there is a bias placed on merit. The best way I can describe TJ is that it encourages a meritocracy. Those that work harder, are those that succeed, and those that do not fail. I am proud of the education I received at TJ, and I am sad to see Dr. Kupersmith leave.

Anonymous said...

I would like to deviate from this bickering to focus to say a few comments about Dr. Kupersmith.

I entered Thomas Jefferson in the fourth grade. Since that day, Dr. K has been a constant source of support and encouragement in everything from grades to sports to musicals and back again. My junior year, I remained a dozen points below the cut off score for National Merit in the PSAT (which is potentially worth a full ride scholarship at various colleges). With his pesonal tutoring, however, six of my classmates and I were able to achieve this prestigious honor. In addition, he spent hours of one-on-one attention with every junior talking and discussing to find the perfect college for each of us (and for most of us, he does). Then my senior year, in addition to all his regular duties as head of school, he became one of our regular English teachers giving one of the most challenging and stimulating reading classes I have taken before or since.

Men of such tireless dedication and abitlity are few and far between. He will be sorely missed by all at TJ as both a mentor and a friend.

MattBrenneman said...

I am not surprised. TJ has been in trouble for some time. Their students are very poor in math and science. Even though the students are coached to do well in the SATs, about 1/3 of the 6th grade does not know their multiplication tables. They have not been able to retain good math/science teachers at all. They have 3 US/MS math science teaching posts, and they've had at least 9 different people in these slots the past 5 years. For the last 3 consecutive years, they have let go of their math teachers before the year is over! It's amazing that a school with this type of track record boasts on itself when these types of turnovers are not even seen in public hs.

Seth said...

Your comment, Mr. Brenneman, is nothing more than a fit of pique against the school that fired you mid-year because too many parents and students had complained that you lacked the ability to effectively communicate with your classes by engaging them at a high school level. Indeed, the basic premise of your comment is false. You have been the only mathematics OR science teacher fired mid-year since I entered Thomas Jefferson in the sixth grade. Certainly TJ has seen its share of turnover, but of the teachers I experienced over a 10-year period, all of them left on their own:

- Baker bought a florist
- Campbell went back to Australia
- Moorehead retired
- Granok moved to St. Louis
- Carlson went to get his MBA at Carnegie Mellon
- Dodge went to teach at Crowder
- and you were fired before it was too late to salvage the academic year for your students. Sounds like you, not the school, have a problem.

The teachers the school has now? Forbis is beginning his third year. Scheidemantel his second. And Kinast his 10th!

You claim that TJ is weak in math and science. You are talking about the school who was single-handedly responsible for creating a "Small Schools" division at the Ozark 8 Math & Science competition... because we always beat the big schools. You are talking about the school that won 30-50% of the medals at the PSU Math Relays for five years straight... while taking less than 5% of the students. You are talking about the school in which my classmates and I received 6 5s on the AP Calculus BC exam out of 7 people. You are talking about the school with SAT math averages that are consistently 100-200 points higher than the national average.

Also, with regards to National Merit... TJ educates 4% of the area's students, and yet has produced over 70% of all National Merit Finalists. If it's so easy to "fake intelligence" via the PSAT... why aren't more schools taking advantage of easy scholarship money?

Anonymous said...

Seth, although you're wrong, I am glad you wrote, because it allows me to fill in a few facts about TJ that will give people a better impression of what the school is like.

So, here are the facts. The year before I came Matt Vanette was asked to leave by Kupersmith before the year was over. Matt Vanette was a math/physics teacher at TJ for 2 yrs. He had a MS in physics and won the graduate teaching award at BU in physics. He was essentially bullied out of TJ by 2 or 3 students, (Evans, Gutwelig, and Fleschaker, I believe) because they simply didn't want to work: a common quality among TJ students, I have to add. To his credit, despite being very unfairly treated by TJ, he stayed the last couple of months. Then I was the next year. Then that same year Dan Bloom taught and didn't stay for the next year. Then Dr. Rolland Fraser was dismissed this year before the year was out. So you had 2 teachers dismissed before the year was out and one asked to leave before the year was out. Those are the facts. (And BTW, Campbell, again an excellent teacher with over 20 years teaching experience, really left because he was fed up with the grade inflation at TJ. He told me that moving from Australia to the U.S. was a huge pain for him, and he wouldn't have gone back if TJ hadn't been so bad. These are _his_ words, not mine.) . Besides all this, you yourself noticed the large number of teachers that have left TJ. You can believe whatever you want, but the truth is that most teachers don’t want to leave a school. Most trade in a lower salary for job satisfaction and security. The majority of my hs teachers I had who are eligible to still teach are still at my old school 25 years later (as opposed to the 2 and 3 years staying power you marvel at)! Perhaps this fact will put things in better perspective for you.

How do I know these things? I actually talked to Campbell and Vanette and got the facts.

As far as TJ's quality of education, I'm not impressed. The National Merit Scholars are the one thing TJ holds up, but the truth is that if you drilled a relatively smart monkey the way the TJ students are drilled, they'd probably do pretty well too. The tests are not a measure of ability, or aptitude, or motivation: they are simply a measure of how well you learn to take a standardized tests. As for your wonderment at why other schools don’t take advantage of the NMS, the sad truth is that public schools today are stretched so thin just trying to provide for special needs students and maintaining their own infrastructure that few make this a priority, so the private schools that do have a big advantage. If you look carefully, you'll also notice the award criterion for the NMS is state-based: many of the people who qualified at TJ would not have fared so well in states with better educational systems. The bottom line is that when you get past the drilling and the poor quality of education in the surrounding area, you see that TJ is not that good. Simple indicators, like the fact that 1/3 of the 6th grade class routinely does not know their multiplication tables, make this quite clear.

Leon said...

Well said Seth...

You forgot Vannette though. Matt Vannette, whom is now a graduate student in Condensed Matter Physics
at the University of Iowa.

here's the site of his research:

Anonymous said...

Seth also neglected to mention:
1) Matt Vannette was asked to leave by Kupersmith before the end of the school year (in 2004)
2) Dr. Dan Bloom, taught for only half a year (in 2005) and did not return
3) Dr. Roland Fraser also left before the end of the 2006 school year.

Maybe the fault is not _all_ with Mr. Brenneman as Seth would like to believe.

Leon said...

"Maybe the fault is not _all_ with Mr. Brenneman as Seth would like to believe."

I don't believe Seth was putting the blame on solely one person... in fact... I don't think I found any "blame" in his post at all. He merely refuted the anecdotal evidence of a fired teacher with achievements the school and students have received. If you want further proof, look at the college admissions and scholarship awards. With numbers like these, and the fact that I know a number of the students personally... I can tell you that I think they've learned their multiplication tables

If all the teachers Seth mentioned left on their own... then what is so strange about having 3 or 4 interim teachers? If you are running a school with parents that have put their children there for quality education, you'd better be damned sure they are quality teachers.

The teachers are held accountable for their performance. If the board believes the teacher isn't living up to expectations, or if the parents paying for the education aren't satisfied, the teacher is let go. TJ is a business... and this is how a business is run... if you aren't satisfying your customers, you will lose clients.

I'm not saying I'm always happy with these decisions. In fact, in many cases I feel it is a mistake. In this case, I feel it was a mistake to let Kupersmith go.

As for Vannette, he was a fantastic teacher. If he was let go, I feel it was probably because of whiny students and whiny parents. But I was under the impression that he planned to leave anyways for graduate school.

But the point is that they are looking for the right teacher for the job, and if the first ten didn't live up to the expectations... then number eleven will be hired.

Anonymous said...

TJ has had a problem in math and science, as a couple of posters indicated. To understand the nature of the problem, you have to go into the history of the dismissals. Matt Vannette was asked to leave by Kupersmith before the end of the year. Vannette was a very good teacher. He was an award winning teaching assistant at Boston University where received his masters in physics. Vannette was bullied out of TJ by 3 students in his AP physics class because they chose not to meet minimum academic standards (like keeping their heads up and their eyes open). Over the Easter weekend, Kupersmith caved in to the influential parents of these 3 students, called Vannette into his office and told him he would like him to consider resigning. Although Vannette was very poorly treated by TJ, he decided to stay for the sake of his students. He is now in a prestigious physics graduate program working on his doctorate. Geoff Campbell left the same year. He left on the pretext of a family medical problem, but the reality was that he was tired of the grade inflation at TJ. He had a number of run-ins with Kupersmith where the conversation would end by him saying,” If you want me to inflate the grades just tell me who and by how much!” He clearly saw the writing on the wall and left while he could. Campbell was an excellent teacher and TJ should have learned its lesson there and then when he left. He personally told me that he could not stomach another year and that he was tired teaching in a school where he couldn’t do in a 9th grade class what he could do with a 6th grade class at his former school. Matt Brenneman came the following year. He was the best trained teacher TJ has ever had. Brenneman worked at a national lab and had a master’s in math, but no experience teaching high school. He expected the students to be intellectually curious and hardworking. As you might guess, he met with the same fate as Vannette (only faster). Brenneman now does classified work for the defense industry in GPS systems. Dan Bloom took over to finish the rest of that year for Brenneman, but he clearly was not fit to teach school. Dr. Rolland Fraser taught science (not math) the following year, and he too, did not finish. Contrary to what Seth might want to think, this type of turnover rate IS alarming. Most teachers go into teaching wanting to settle down in one place, and a good portion of them do. The list of these teachers mentioned and all the others he lists should make it obvious that TJ has some serious problems.

If you’re shaking your head by now, you’re not the only one. The problem is a simple one: TJ wants the appearance of a “proper” education. TJ hires teachers with higher degrees, and drills the students so they do well in the SATs, yet the students lack real understanding as Seth’s misuse of the phrase “fit of pique” shows. Seth doesn’t know the exact meaning of the word. He does not know that “pique” not only means resentment, but it also carries with it the connotation of transience. He can pick it out on a SAT exam, yet he would not be able to use it properly in the company of educated people. In a sense, Seth’s predicament is characteristic of TJ’s: showy enough to impress the less educated and able to jump through the standardized educational hoops, yet lacking in true understanding. This is why Carlson, Vannette, Campbell, Brenneman, and Fraser are all gone: they were all men educated men who knew what a farce TJ was posing as a top-tier school.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I challenge you to speak with, say, Warren Carlson or Matt Vannette and see if they express the same feeling of the farcical nature of Thomas Jefferson. Seeing as Carlson routinely returns for graduation ceremonies, and I regularly speak with Matt Vannette (a person I hold in VERY high regard), I doubt they would agree. I never had Campbell, and Brenneman came after I left.

As far as the use of "pique" goes, Seth's utilization is accurate. The noun form is defined as:
"A state of vexation caused by a perceived slight or indignity; a feeling of wounded pride."

You imply that connotations somehow change the meaning of the word itself. They do not. As an analogy, let's say that you and I pass a homeless person. You think, "This city has many vagrants." I think, "This city has many homeless people." The connotation with the term 'vagrant' is a negative one, while the connotation with the term 'homeless people' is one of pity. However, this in no way changes the explicit meaning of the two words.

The fact that you directly question Seth's intelligence shows your ignorance on the matter. Seth matriculated at the University of Oklahoma in 2004 with junior standing and a full-ride scholarship. He did this at the age of 16. If he continues with his studies to become a medical doctor, he will presumably receive his Doctorate of Medicine degree at the age of 22. I'm just gonna throw this out there, but I bet that's more than any of us accomplished (or will accomplish) by that age.

As a final note, if our higher-than-average SAT scores actually reflect our LACK of intelligence, what does that say about everyone else?

Anonymous said...

Indeed, who I am to challenge the great Seth. But don't take my word for it, simply look it up in Webster's. In fact, I'll save you the time: here is the definition from Webster's:

Main Entry: 1pique
Pronunciation: 'pEk
Function: noun
: a transient feeling of wounded vanity : RESENTMENT (a fit of pique)

As far as what I said, I challenge you to do some research and learn the facts because I already have done so. The quotes attributed to the 2 people mentioned is in fact correct (as you will find if you do a bit of work).

Leon said...

"The problem is a simple one: TJ wants the appearance of a “proper” education. TJ hires teachers with higher degrees, and drills the students so they do well in the SATs, yet the students lack real understanding as Seth’s misuse of the phrase “fit of pique” shows. Seth doesn’t know the exact meaning of the word. He does not know that “pique” not only means resentment, but it also carries with it the connotation of transience. He can pick it out on a SAT exam, yet he would not be able to use it properly in the company of educated people. In a sense, Seth’s predicament is characteristic of TJ’s: showy enough to impress the less educated and able to jump through the standardized educational hoops, yet lacking in true understanding."

Idiom: "A speech form or an expression of a given language that is peculiar to itself grammatically or cannot be understood from the individual meanings of its elements, as in keep tabs on."

Isn't "fit of pique" considered an idiom? While the word "pique" carries a connotation of transience, the phrase "fit of pique" does not necessarily do the same.

I point this out becuase the strength of your rhetoric hinges on this point. You are attacking Seth on semantics, and then making his "mistake" characteristic to the school as a whole. It's nothing more than a straw man.

Back to the point of this whole topic though... perhaps it is this turnover rate that prompted Kupersmith's dismissal.

MattBrenneman said...

As the OP pointed out, Seth’s use of the phrase “fit of pique” is incorrect. His response to OP is sadder yet, since it shows that he does not even know the difference between the context in which a word is used and its connotation. It seems that the unfortunate Seth should have stayed in hs instead of graduating early. Fortunately though, Doogie's penchant for memorization and his large ego should make him well suited for the medical profession.

As far as Kupersmith is concerned, it wasn’t as if he was fired for turnovers over which he had no control. On the contrary, he was HEAD OF SCHOOL. The turnovers were his responsibility. Why did such a seasoned educator perform so poorly in this respect?

Anonymous said...

Matt, your question is easy to answer. TJ parents have jerked LK like a puppet on a string the last couple of years. The school needs the tuition bucks so much that the administration doesn't have the balls to tell most of the parents that not everyone in the class can get an A or B (even if they do pay over 10K a year). It's easier to let everyone do well until you get teachers like you who don't understand the rules of the game, and start to grade students realistically.

Now you understand why you were part of the high turnover rate, and also why the parents became so displeased with LK.

Anyhow, from what I hear, you're doing a lot better than you were at TJ, so let it go and move on. (I'm Steve Harry's godfather if that clues you in to who I am). I know you well enough to know that you have very high standards of academic achievement, and I know TJ well enough to know that they fell far short of your standards: 'nuff said. For exactly the reasons I stated earlier, nothing you say will change a single person over there.



MattBrenneman said...


You're the last person I would ever expect to hear in this discussion group (I guess that goes to show you never know who you’re talking to on the Internet, eh?). Anyhow, what is your connection to TJ and where are you right now anyhow? At the EEC meeting last winter I stopped by MIT to talk to Zoltosky (he was a visiting prof there) on some beamforming stuff, and I stopped by to see Karen. Someone there told me that both of you had moved to FL (which just floored me) but they didn't know where. I hadn’t seen you two since the Santa Fe meeting, and I was really excited to tell you about the phase correlation periodogram we had finished up. If you tell me where you are, I’ll actually send you a copy of our latest paper on it (hint, hint). Anyhow, Herb just waked by as I am typing to you, and when I told him I was writing to you, he told me to tell you that he is _never_ going on a hike in the desert with you again (good advice, I say: he peeled for a good 2 weeks after we got back!).

I’m still at Wright-Patterson, and it’s great. We have a consortium with the Ohio U’s going on right now (funded by the Sensors directorate). The travel is a bit of a pain, but the work couldn’t be better. WP is trying to get into a new initiative the OH legislature passed called “3rd frontier” that is essentially a way of trying to get good technology-based jobs in OH via the universities. (Speaking of Herb, I have to tell you a funny story about him and this “3rd frontier”. We were at Miami when we made this presentation, and after the President introduced us and said this program was called 3rd frontier”, Herb asked, “What were the first 2 frontiers?” and cracked everyone up.) Anyhow, they have something like $220 million forecasted for the next 10 years, and they are even putting up the funds for start-ups. Needless to say, we’re working like hell right now. Even for Wright-Patt, we are always on the look-out for new money, and this particular pot of funds is a lot more competitive than we expected. The groups we work with are small, but the people are good and very focused. I think with a bit more mentoring from myself and a few other people here (like the grant directors for one thing), they’ll be able to find good concrete applications for some pretty promising ideas they have.

Your old e-mail address doesn’t work, so let me know where you are and we’ll keep in touch. I am going to the ION conf in Fort Worth this September, so if you’re there at least stop by and say hi. I really miss the talks with you and Karen: she is just so smart, and can get to the bottom of any problem in about 5 questions. I know that Jade and Herb are going out at least for a couple of evenings with a big group of the Chinese. They call our group the “Chinese mafia” (of which I am an honorary member) because when we go to confs, there are so many in our group that when we make reservations, we sometimes have to reserve about half the restaurant in advance. If you’re there, you should join us for an evening: it would be a lot of fun.

Take care and say hi to Karen for me,


Anonymous said...

Hey Matt,

Yeah, we are in Florida now. I’m glad we made the move. Although I miss a lot of things about Boston, our quality of life is a lot better here. The move was especially rough on Karen. Part of her wanted to stay. She loved working with the students. In the end, the pressures from the administration were just too much for her though, and she had to give it up. Right now, MIT is under a lot of pressure to get funding from external sources, especially from industry. The old guaranteed grants from the NSF and DOE are a thing of the past. In this respect, MIT is about 20 yrs behind the curve: it should have been doing this a long time ago. Anyhow, the dept felt Karen should do more work developing a start-up and industrial contacts, and Karen didn’t want to get into this. At one time, the corridor around MIT was mostly businesses from Harvard and MIT profs. Now, Intel, Google, MITRE, and guys like this have flooded the area. The amount of work and financial risk involved didn’t interest Karen. The bad thing was how vindictive and petty things got when she made her decision. The new dept head told her outright he was upset that she wasn’t a “team player”. First, her lab got moved over Spring break without anyone telling her. Then the dept cancelled her trip to Berkeley for the MSRI workshop because they needed her to teach summer courses. When her teaching load was increased that fall, Karen felt that was the final straw. She could see what things were going to be like for her in the future and she was having a hard time getting motivated to put all of her work into a place that treated her like this. So now, Karen does consulting (mostly image processing) and I still teach (and help Karen with her work). We don’t go to as many conferences as we used to, but the ION in FW is going to be mostly industrially based, so we will be there, and we will definitely get together with you. (Karen heard your talk in Chicago on the adaptive periodogram work: she said it was one of the highlights of the conference. She didn’t get to hear your eigencanceler talk, but she heard from Haimovitch that it was very nice also. When I told her I had heard from you, she said that there might be a client interested in your eigencanceler method. If it works to their satisfaction, she said that they’d probably put up the money for the patent application if you have not already patented it. I didn’t know how the proprietary rights work out at WP, but I thought I’d mention it.)

WP will not give out your contact information, so drop me an e-mail at

BTW, I know at Thomas Jefferson through my sister. She is married to an attorney in the area and is (as she says the school calls her), a “TJ mom”. She didn’t know who you were because you were gone by the time I told her about you. Anyhow, I was visiting her when that Kupersmith guy got fired, and I’ve heard from her for some time the problems at the school. It’s unfortunate, but typical of US education in math and science. Oh well… ;>o

Take care,


D said...

This is great we have adults willing to argue with kids. Way to act like adults. ;) D$

Anonymous said...

I realize this is probably a dead topic, but I just want to clear up a few things. I went to Boston College, not Boston University.

Also, I don't konw how "prestigious" I am as a grad student. I'm nearly 30 and I have to pull all nighters in the lab about 20 times a month. We have yet to get a paper to press, but we are also working in a fairly unexplored area.

I had also decided to leave for grad school in December of 2003 (if I can subtract properly), which anticipated any serious issues the school and I had by about 4 months. Also, the "3 students" were probably in my junior physics class, not the AP class.

I may have disagreed with the way some things were run at TJ, but one could argue the differences in philosophies possibly enhanced the school's educational value. One could also argue that it led to massive strife and absolutely no learning.

I think what happened to Leonard sucks, and it makes me feel that any poor treatment I may or may not have recieved was due to the board and not him. I hope he does well, because if Leonard Kupersmith has one trait it is that he cares about the well-being of his students.

M. Vannette (I do not have, nor do I want a Google account)

Anonymous said...

and since we're splitting hairs here, anonymous, i'm not quite sure what "they were all men educated men who knew what a farce TJ was posing as a top-tier school" means. "all men educated men" isn't even an idiom! that just doesn't make sense, man. was it a typo? who knows? i would argue that it's a clear sign of ignorance.

in addition, if you're going to criticize people on their lack of research, don't start throwing out blatantly incorrect details about a former TJ teacher while disguising it as evidence.

by the way, in the case that you meant "they were all men-educated men," then i suppose that makes you a sexist. and your sentence still doesn't make sense.

Anonymous said...

and i checked on my word choices, too. defines "splitting hairs" as the following:

splitting hairs
11 thumbs up

To argue about an inconsequential and trivial aspect of an issue

When you are accused of being forty-five minutes late for an appointment, you are splitting hairs to say that you were really only forty minutes late

and that definition got 11 thumbs up, so it must be good.

Anonymous said...

this has given me quite a few laughs... reminds me of the "arguing on the internet..." picture. although, while on the subject of bad teachers, I would LOVE to comment on that. (I'll try to keep this short, but it will be hard)

Brennamen - sorry dude, you were just a terrible high school teacher. you can tear down TJ all you want, but as for someone who actually had you for half a year (well kind of, you put me to sleep every class period), i can honestly say kinast is 3x the math teacher you will ever be, at least in high school. and that's coming from someone on kinast's "10 most disliked people" list. Oh, and you WERE the only teacher to my knowledge to ever be replaced DURING the semester, 5 or 6 kids had left the class to gov't cause they knew they were going to fail it, and all the rest of us were just sad we were going to get 1's and 2's on the ap test. THANK YOU KUPERSMITH (i got a 4).

Campbell - i had him 10th grade for geometry. he wasn't too bad I guess, but I couldn't stand trying to learn anything from him cause he had that "I'm old but I'm still cool" attitude.

Vannette - a victim of the TJ system. I'll admit. I remember telling him one day after class "This is how TJ works. If the kids with all the pull don't get the grades they want from a teacher, then they get that fixed." He then told me "Well maybe this isn't the school for me then." Unfortunately for Vannette, my class had a majority of the kids with the pull, and they all decided after the first week of class they hated physics and slept through the rest of the year, didn't turn in their homework, and when Vannette found out they were just copying their homework off of each other, he stopped giving homework, which really screwed them. Their fault, not his. Vannette stayed and finished out the year with us 5 or 6 that cared about physics, and funny thing, we all got 3s and 4s on the physics AP. the people that didn't stay with vannette, ehh.. not so good. THANK YOU VANNETTE (I'm enjoying my 19 hours of AP credit in college, 5 from physics)

Bloom - just a filler. He wasn't really intended to be hired for good. Forbis replaced brennamen when he got fired, and we needed a physics teacher. He wasn't a great teacher anyway, I think i actually would've gotten a 5 on the AP had i just not had physics senior year and went off of what Vannette taught me.

Kupersmith - He cared about getting us high test scores and all the scholarship money he could help us get. Without him, I would not have gotten 8,000 a year at U of A. He truly cared about all of us, and I'm thankful for that, sad to see him go.

as for "It is expensive. And only certain types need apply." Unless you went to TJ, you don't know what the kids are like there. Some are very rich, some are rich, most are upper-middle class, some are poor. Some, the school even helps with tuition if they believe they will be a contribution to the school (good grades and test scores). It costs so much because the parents with enough money to send them there such as my dad, care about their education. my dad made my brother go there when he was failing out of public middle school, and suddenly he had teachers like McCollum breathing down his neck to get his homework done every night. He ended up with great grades and went on to do well in college and grad school.

TJ may prepare more for tests than actual learning the material.. so? it got me 8k a year for college, and I still learned more material than people at Joplin High. Do I really need to remember the integral of tan(x) if i'm majoring in political science? No.. but I crammed it into my head before the AP cause Kinast told me to, and I got a 4. If you're going to say TJ is a bad school because Seth used "fit of pique" wrong, then I'll just laugh because he started as a junior because he CAN pick out that word on the SAT, and he did, and got a 1600.. or 1590, whatever. Btw, I hate you seth. :)

sorry, that was very long, I'm just glad that TJ was able to get me the grades and test scores I needed for college, and I don't enjoy people telling me only snobs go to TJ (and they still do) when the people that go there are not snobs; you have to actually go there to realize that.

To sum the school up: "The ends justify the means." And while Kupersmith may tell you that this is unethical (I don't really remember, I was sleeping), educationally I feel that's what they do. By whatever means they need to take, they get you ready for the psat and sat, and get your gpa to where it needs to be to get those scholarships. I'm glad they did.

Anonymous said...

After some consideration, it occurs to me that I may have been diplomatic to the point of being disingenuous. I wish to clear up what I posted earlier. By the way, this is Vannette.

As far as math and science goes, this school does not live up to the sales pitch it gives to prospective teachers. Todd had it right when he said the ends justify the means. The picture painted for me prior to my hire was one of a science education utopia. I was by no means naive enough to believe everything, but the part about getting students to learn science was reasonable. (I'm including math with science as it is the most basic of all sciences.) What really matters is making certain students perform well on standardized tests. This is a very different goal compared with helping students learn science. This difference is an active area of research in physics education.

After my interview I was left with the impression that scientific rigor was lacking at the school and I was being offered the job to bring it in. Science is beautifully put together with elegant and subtle connections that encourage a particular type of person to investigate more deeply. For me, rigorous proofs and derivations bring out those connections. I was aware that at the high school level I would have to sacrifice some rigor because one cannot reasonably expect high school juniors to understand how to solve a second order differential equation. But the expectations of the school (as evidenced by the purported success of the math program) were high test scores. This can only be achieved on a broad scale through rote memorization. Reducing science to a collection of facts with no appeal to the inter-connectedness is antithetical to the nature of science. I realized this within 4 months of my two year tenure at TJ and made the decision to leave at that point. I had to delay so that I could retake the GRE physics exam. Based on these thoughts, I would have to say that as far as math and science go TJ was a farce. Geoff Campbell knew this as well. That was the real reason he left. I will not presume to speak for Brent Dodge, but I am quite happy for him now that he is at Crowder.

Now, I want to clarify what happened to me at the end of my TJ career. The second quarter grades were out and Leonard called me into his office just before the Easter recess. He said he was just looking over some of the cards and was curious about the performance of some of my junior physics students. Apparently these students performed well in other classes but were not doing as well in my class. Leonard called into question my teaching ability and desire. My response was to ask about the 5 or 6 other students in the class who were doing just fine. I would like to point out that 3 or 4 of these students doing well did not have a reputation for stellar performance. I also asked about the prior year's class and the performance of those students. Leonard told me that he wanted the grades adjusted. I refused to do it. His reply was that he was going to implement a curve of his own. He was the boss and could do whatever he felt was necessary. He also told me that I would not be teaching the junior physics class anymore. On top of the poor grades, he cited my penchant for sending disruptive students out of the class. I make no apologies. By the time you are a junior in high school you should have the ability to keep your mouth shut and not distract other students. To this day I send disruptions away. Yes, I have told college students to leave my classes when I felt it necessary. My basic impression after that meeting was that Leonard felt the poor performance was my fault. When I brought my grades to Leonard so that he could decide on an appropriate curve we spoke for less than 5 minutes. However, by this time (it was a day or so later) he was beginning to shift blame from me to some of the students. At this time he made me an offer. He said I was not teaching the junior physics, and if I felt so inclined I could step down from all of my other duties with pay. I did not sleep much that weekend because I really had to consider what was going to happen to my other classes. In the end I agreed to stay on and teach the rest of my students as well as any juniors who wanted to stay with me. As they had not found a replacement teacher I also agreed to give one last topical lecture to the juniors. At the time we were in the middle of optics, but I chose to talk about relativity. The first day back I announced that it would be my last day teaching the juniors. I told them I was going to get a cup of coffee in the teacher's lounge and I would be back in five minutes. Anyone who did not want to stay was welcome to go to the library for a study hall. When I came back 3 students had left. (This may be the origin of the number of students involved.)

As far as the poor performance of my AP calculus class, I can make no real arguments. I am not a math teacher. I only point out that Kinast's first batch of AP students did not do so well either. This is according to Troy.

At the time I thought Leonard was the source of most of this. But, like I said previously, at this point I'm inclined to believe the situation was out of his hands and that may have been the source of most of his ire at our first meeting.

Anonymous said...

Everyone in the Joplin area knows TJ recruits and "buys" top athletes(by way of tuition breaks) in the area to attend school their and help "boost" their sports programs. I'm surprised that MSHSAA hasn't been notified. On another note, TJ does NOTHING for students with special needs. As a parent of one of these types of students, I was strongly discouraged to have my child attend school there......yes, by the great LK himself. I guess my child wasn't "elite" enough to attend. Perhaps I should have offered to donate more money to the school.

Anonymous said...

"buying" top atheletes? .... ... .. ..... ... excuse me for a moment...


sorry about that. now, on a serious note, are you talking about our "top atheletes" that go on to huge d1 colleges to play? wait we havn't had any of those. maybe d2? ah, a couple. our basketball program that struggles to break .500? our soccer program who in my sr. year broke .500 for the first time in the school's history? and with the best statistics in soccer in 1A anywhere near joplin, i still never had 1 person from even a d3 school look at me to play soccer for them. i would be really interested to hear your definition of "top athelete," and i *really* wish that were true, cause if so it might have meant i would have had more than 4 people on my soccer team that could kick a ball, i wouldn't have made the basketball team instead of playing, and i would never have seen the golf course because all the top atheletes would have already takent the spots on the team.

and if you even want to try and say we recruit good tennis players to come to the school, you should consider the fact that owner of the millineum tennis club has had 2 (maybe more, i dunno how many of them there are) of his kids in the school, and therefore all the TJ kids that play tennis play at the millineum and learn how to play growing up, so they're good in high school.

sorry, but the very idea of tj even HAVING any "top atheletes," gave me a good laugh for a few minutes, and the thought of them recruiting for these supposed "top atheletes" gave me another couple good minutes. thank you for that anonymous.

Anonymous said...


i posted earlier in this ridiculous thread, and i figured i'd just leave it at that, but after reading what is probably the most ignorant comment i've ever read on the internet, i feel compelled to write again.

anonymous -- your comments on the sports program are baseless and absurd. i'll just let todd keep laughing at you.

...and as for your saying that TJ "does NOTHING for those with special needs" -- you have no idea what the hell you are talking about. i suggest that you don't take your one bad experience and apply it to everyone else's experiences, because it makes you sound completely ignorant.

Mr. Vannette -- as a former student of yours, I have to say that I really enjoyed being in your physics and AP physics classes and I thought you were a great teacher. It was really too bad, the whole schism with the board/LK and the really great teachers (those being you and Musgrave), and then the break between the board and LK. I'm really not sure why TJ was made out to be some science and math utopia, because as you and todd have said, it's really just about the ends. it's that you can teach however you want, as long as the board scores (and the grades, i suppose) match up. but that's how it works at these schools, isn't it? as bad as it sounds, and maybe you'll have to call me a pessimist, but i feel like there are very few schools whose primary occupation is the "pure quest for knowledge". they're mostly, if not all, about profit. and you can't have profit without tuition. and you can't have tuition without students. and you can't have students without attracting the attention of parents, with statistics about board scores and GPAs and the like. i'm sorry -- i'm stating the obvious, but it's true. best of luck in your grad school research, seriously, but i still wish you had gone to ND.

Brenneman -- had you for one class. you sat in for kinast. i'm trying to remember what you talked about... oh yeah it was molecular compppppppppppppppppp

sorry i fell asleep at my computer. seriously, if you're going to teach high school students, get off your high horse and maybe teach something that would be interesting for them. it's not just what you find interesting, it has to be engaging for the students, too. not that you're considering teaching again, though. todd has already fallen asleep thinking about your return.

the thing is, if it hadn't been for TJ, for the Humphreys, and for Dr. K., i wouldn't be anywhere near where i am today. "TJ" helped my family and me out immensely in terms of tuition all the way through my senior year, and the TJ family continues to help my sister. but money's not even the point (unless you're the guy/woman who posted two times ago). The point is that the school really does everything it can to get you the best board scores, to encourage you to improve your grades, to get you into the school that suits you the best, and really to make you into better young men and young women. Of course they want you to go to an Ivy. Of course they want you to go to Wash U or U Chicago. Of course they want you to go to Stanford or MIT or Cal Tech. It looks good for the school. But I don't think many students are complaining. and the students who do complain didn't even want to be there in the first place. i'm really not trying to brown-nose, i just get really pissed when people criticize an institution they know little about.

is TJ a "top-tier" school? obviously not. is it the best school (academically) in a 100-mile radius? easily.

Anonymous said...

Alright, as an alumnus of this fine educational institution, I feel compelled to weigh in on this sometimes interesting, sometimes inane debate. I graduated from Thomas Jefferson quite a while ago, and I was also a founding member of the school. Therefore, I remember the original history of the school, arguably better than anyone who has posted here before me.

The task of recruiting qualified science teachers is one that is a national problem. Find me a principle, head of school, or even department chair at a school anywhere in the country that says he or she has no problems finding qualified science and math teachers, and I’ll show you someone who’s fooling himself or herself. Thomas Jefferson, however, doesn’t want qualified teachers. They want excellent teachers. And, lets face it, someone with a master’s degree in a hard science can make a whole lot more money doing something other than teaching. Hell, they can make more money working as a valet in Vegas. The pay at TJ is admittedly better than other local schools, but it is nowhere near what a well-qualified graduate can make in business.

Therefore, the pool from which to recruit is small with which to begin. Then, you have to add in the fact that TJ is located in Joplin, Missouri. While a fantastic place to raise a family, Joplin is not exactly a hotbed of nighttime entertainment, and is therefore about as appealing to a young single teacher as, say, Decorah, Iowa. So, obviously the pool of candidates with which you have to work is quite small.

Then, you have to select teachers that will fit in with the mix at TJ. The school is very demanding of its staff, and anything less than full commitment to the success of its students is a failing grade for a faculty member. It is one thing to profess your devotion in an interview, and another entirely to live it out for three or four years.

Has there been turnover in the science and math departments? Personally, I don’t really know. My last year was Brent Dodge’s first, and I thought that he made an excellent addition to the staff. However (and Brent will tell you this himself), Brent never intended to make TJ his career. It was merely a stopping point, and the school should consider itself lucky that he chose to spend the time with it he did.

For those unlucky enough to never have experienced class with Warren Carlson or Howard Granok, well, too bad for you. Warren was phenomenal, in instructing both math and physics, and genuinely cared for his students. If those who followed didn’t, well, the fault lies entirely with you for choosing a school that was not the correct fit. Howard, while a strange duck, was most likely the most overqualified teacher the school ever had, and ever will have. For crying out loud, the man left postgraduate work at Princeton doing cancer research to teach high school chemistry. However, he heard the call, and answered it. A more educated man has not sat in his chair since.

When it comes right down to it, Thomas Jefferson far and away the best school in the area. Say what you will about recruiting (Athletes???? Are you kidding? Have you been to an athletic event? Sorry, but you’re an idiot.), the Thomas Jefferson student body is far more educated at graduation than any other graduate in the region. To even get close to the caliber of the school, you have to travel to Tulsa or Kansas City. That’s it. There are no other options. TJ does a better job preparing it graduates for college than any other school around. That’s not an assertion. That’s a fact.

Anonymous said...

by the way, if you read this again vannette, i was wanting to get your email address so i could shoot you one, just send me something at

Anonymous said...

I hate to say it, but TJ has been corrupt before LK left. The math and sciences are not the only places where grades were altered. Anyone who went there and had an english or history class should know that the first grade they get from that teacher is going to be the same from then on. this is from teachers who all ready knew the rules of the game, i.e. highest donating child gets an A, and who are the other students again? it never mattered how much effort or work i put into a test or a paper bc the teacher already knew what grade they would give. it didn't matter if i stayed up all night or wrote it during first period, i could expect to get a B- and never improve. These grades had to be fixed, so that TJ can keep up appearences. If you beg to differ, i must remind you of the three or four students, that were "not asked to come back to TJ." Two of which, had been there since sixth grade, and because of their grades, were kicked out the end of their junior year, leaving them unable to graduate in their senior class. Rather than offering tutors, summer school, or even being held back, were forced to leave so that the next year's graduating class would have more to brag about in terms of college scholarships, acceptance, etc. yet it's ironic how after graduation many TJ alumni either go to mssu or drop out completely. talk about college prep!oh and btw, just because you're a prestigious professor hailing from some ivy league college doesn't mean you know in the least bit how to relate to kids, let alone teach. i think that is why so many math and science teachers were let go, not bc of whining students. Why do you think kinast did so well? how many teachers can arm wrestle their students then actually be able to educate them as well?

Anonymous said...

Okay, yeah, the “first grade they get from that teacher is going to be the same from them on” is a nice joke that we students said, but we know it’s not really true. My grades were always within what I though was an appropriate range depending on how well I wrote the paper. Yes, there were times when I spent a really long time on a paper and then got a poor grade. And yes, there were times when I spent no time on a paper and got a good grade. But normally, if I had read the book or knew the content, my grade normally reflected how well I understood it and how well I showed I understood it. And I was a B student when I didn’t understand the content, and I was a high A student when I did understand it. My family gave hardly any money to the school. We were not one of the families with the “right last name” at all. I was probably one of the poorest kids in my class, and I simply got what grade I deserved. The previous post states: “i must remind you of the three or four students, that were ‘not asked to come back to TJ.’ Two of which, had been there since sixth grade, and because of their grades, were kicked out the end of their junior year, leaving them unable to graduate in their senior class. Rather than offering tutors, summer school, or even being held back, were forced to leave so that the next year's graduating class would have more to brag about in terms of college scholarships, acceptance, etc.” Insofar as those students are concerned, they were offered tutors, idiot. Everyone knows how the school works; you can go in any time you need help, and the teacher will help you. They are paid to do it, and they will. James and Chris were both just lazy; everyone knew that. They were offered tutors; they could have gone to summer school. And our school doesn’t hold back students because there is no reason to do so. If the student is putting forth an honest effort, then the school probably would have tried to accommodate. But I’m sorry; neither of those students was even attempting to make a change or to actually try. And really, what is wrong with going to MSSU? It is a school. It’s cheap, you can live at home, and you can get a good education there. For some people, that’s what they want, and that’s not bad. It’s not the end of the world if you go there. You still can get an education there and be an intelligent person. Mr. Dodge did. And you must understand, Mr. Previous Post, that it is not the school making people drop out or did not prepare them to cope with college. It is that person’s choice, and for a person like that, he simply lacks the motivation to stay in college or that’s not what he wants. It is in no way a reflection of the school; it’s a reflection of the individual and his preference for immediate gratification. Oh, and Todd, I love your comments. They are all so true, and anything that I owe you, I owe you even more now and will redeem at any time. Just call me, and I'll be there.

Anonymous said...

As far as I can tell, no one on this thread has ever worked for LK. My wife was his personal assistant for one scool year, so I speaking from some experience. I can tell you LK delights in the suffering of his subordinates.

As my two children attended TJ, I have experience in that area as well. The school did provide an excellent learing enviroment, if you can get past the Village of the Damed look. Socially, the attitude of TJ is insideous as it takes over your life, much like a cult. It is always there, we are so much better than the slack-jawed morons at Joplin public. Well, the kids moved to the hell of public school and have never looked back. Life is better. Go Eagles!

Anonymous said...

Granted, there are people who have the "so much better than the slack-jawed morons at Joplin" attitude, but those people are dismissed as supercilious idiots by almost every student at TJ. There are the wealthy who like to flaunt how much they have, and there are the intelligent who like to flaunt how much they know. They like to show that they have or know more. But speaking as a student from TJ, we hate that behavior and attitude because it reflects badly on the majority of students, which are not like that at all. TJ provides an excellent education, which inarguably, for most students, is better than the education offered by the public schools. I went to public school until around high school, and although I was smart and grasped what was going on in my classes, I didn’t apply myself and made poor grades due to my apathetic attitude. My parents had me transfer to TJ to try to get me to actually do work. The social environment helped me do that because all the students were driven to do well. And I felt out of place because I wasn’t doing any work, so I did. And I’ll be forever grateful that TJ helped me do that. But I understand that some people simply don't like going to a social environment like TJ and would prefer the public schools, just like some people prefer MU to schools like Macalester or Hendrix. All three of these schools have an excellent education to offer to its students. You could get a good education in a school like MU, but it is easier for some people like me to receive a good education in a school like Macalester and Hendrix to get more personal attention because they are smaller. That attention is the same advantage that a TJ education offers to public school. Your statement that TJ "takes over your life" like a cult is a misinterpretation. It doesn’t take over your life if you don't want it to. Some people love TJ, and they love to devote themselves to the school because they believe in it. Some people don't feel as passionately about the school, and it is just school for them. Then they go and do other things with a different social group. The social opportunities are not as varied as public school. That lack of variety comes from the size of the school. But it doesn't force you to live in a little TJ bubble.

Anonymous said...

"yet it's ironic how after graduation many TJ alumni either go to mssu or drop out completely. talk about college prep!"

Possibly the most ignorant comment I have seen on this entire blog. First of all, just how many TJ alumni have dropped out completely? 5%? which would be somewhere around like.. 15 kids in the entire history of the school?

Second of all, I go to mssu, and whoever you are, I will probably get a better education than you ever did in college. Why? I must admit, I cringed at the though of going there, and I was scared to tell LK and he did jeer at me slightly, but supported my decision. Now that I have gone for two full semesters, I have found out that there are college professors who CARE about students. I got a D in calc 2 at u of ark. simply because we had 4 different teachers in one semester, and they all sucked and didn't care about us. my average class size at mssu has been about 15, and my teachers actually care how I do. Are they the best professors? No, but they are more effective than some moron with a Dr. that is only at the huge university for the prestige... because they care. I use what I learned at TJ and apply it to learning in college, and I do virtually no homework and get a 3.5 easy, because I can whip through those papers and I understand or ALREADY KNOW everything I have to learn in all these gen ed classes, and some of my upper level government classes.

Next time you want to label MSSU students in the same category as college drop outs, or make any other idiotic comment on here based on nothing but your own sterotypes, please reconsider, because I'm tired of rebutting you just to call you an idiot and tell you how wrong you are.

Anonymous said...

If anyone who reads this would like to know where Leonard Kupersmith is now working and residing, please email me at I realize this thread may be dead but I have the scoop.

Anonymous said...


Your comments are so funny, and yet, at the same time, so sad (not to mention lame).

It was the teacher’s fault why you didn't do well? Listen to yourself! Grow up and take responsibility for yourself. The education you've been afforded (and squandered) was an opportunity. It was *your* responsibility to make the most of that opportunity. Going around crying about how you didn't do well because the teacher didn't *care* about you makes you sound like the baby that you are. Your case, in particular, gets exactly to the heart at what is wrong with TJ and why so many of their students have such a hard time doing well at the better schools (despite all of their stellar scores).

Anyhow, I'm sorry to hear that the putting your head on the desk and falling asleep routine didn't go over too well at Univ. of Arkansas. What a surprise. I guess when you knew you weren't guaranteed an A, you weren't quite so smug anymore. So when you realized that you couldn't cut it at a major university, you had to put your tail between your legs, go back home, and attend a podunk college where you knew you could cut it. Sad.

But what makes me really fall off my chair is your comments about how the ends justify the means. How did the ends justify the means in your case when you couldn't even pass a freshman calc class? What did all of the "coaching" do for you when you actually had to do some serious work? (And of course, what makes it all the more funny is that you offer this info voluntarily as a defense! Todd, one day bud you gotta look in the mirror and realize you ain't even 1/10 as smart as you you'd like to think you are)

Todd, you're a loud-mouth loser who will be selling insurance in Joplin after you graduate from college 5 or 6 years from now. (Isn't it great how the internet gives you the ability to expose jokes like you?)

Best Regards,

Matt B.

Anonymous said...

LOL... it took me like 10 minutes to figure out who Matt B. was because you sound like you're 15. Once I realized it was a 50 year old math teacher who got canned because he can't teach, your post made perfect sense.

Of course you'd stick up for my 3 teachers in my Honors Calc 2 class (freshman level? you're smart.) who got fired because you were just as terrible as they were and you got canned like they did. I'm sorry you're bitter but as soon as you came in our class to have a guest day of teaching us calculus and started giving us your rectangles and obtuse angles lecture for the 8th graders i knew we were screwed. And as much as I couldn't stand Kinast, he saved us all from getting a 1 on the AP Calc test.

I'm glad I figured out who "Matt B." was because I now realize I can ignore everything you said. You're just as bad as all three teachers that got canned because they couldn't hack it teaching a class of 50 Calc 2, the same way you couldn't hack teaching a class of 20 Calc 1.

Oh and I'm not loud mouthed at all, my mouth was usually closed while sleeping in the front row of your class. Everyone else stayed awake by staring at the question mark shaped bald spot on your head or by drawing pictures of penguins that looked oddly similar to you, but that only amused me enough to stay awake for the first week (or maybe the first day? hah).

I can blame my D on whoever I want and be justified because they all got canned (like you). And you're right, I'm definitely not as smart as I think I am, only smart enough to realize when my teacher blows and doesn't know what they're talking about so I should just sleep through class because I'll end up with the same amount of knowledge, but 50 more minutes of sleep.

What's funnier is even if I did end up selling insurance in Joplin, I'd make more money than you ever will because you won't be able to hold a teaching job for more than a year before getting tossed out the back door again. Just retire early and get your social security checks while you still can.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so this is the endgame. First, all of the exchanges posted here will now be permanently archived for others to have access to. (I love the internet) Second, I’ll finish by correcting (once again), the errors of Todd Scacewater, who has been the respondent to the last few e-mails. For the record, I graduated from my high school (Plum Borough High School) 6th in a class of 266. I went to the University of Chicago, Carnegie-Mellon, and Virginia Tech, better schools than he could ever even hope to be admitted to. I received my B.S. cum laude. I was a member of the honorary academic societies Beta Beta Beta, Mortar Board, National Honor Society. I was invited for admission to the “Who’s Who of American College Students”. I received the Tillbrook scholarship from CMU in 1985, the Cunningham Fellowship for three years at Virginia Tech (the highest fellowship they offer) from 2000-2003, and I was a visiting university fellow at Michigan State (2004). I have worked at a national lab (the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory) and published a dozen papers. My paper on the determination of molecular structure using solid-state NMR dipolar couplings (Brenneman,M. T., and T. A. Cross.1990. A novel method for the analytical determination of protein structure using solid state NMR: the “metric method", J. Chem. Phys. 90:1483-1494.) was responsible for the determination of the first in situ protein structure of a membrane protein. Such proteins are the key agents in understanding the molecular basis of cancer, and the work I did resulted in the largest NIH grant ever awarded ($6 million dollars, more than Todd could ever make selling anything). I have a patent now pending, and have given over 2 dozen talks and presentations at national conferences (This year I gave a talk in San Diego at the ION NTM meeting Jan 28-30, at the Catamaran Resort Hotel, San Diego, California and this fall, I’ve been invited to Dallas to give a talk). Todd would be lucky if he could even achieve one of these accomplishments (heck, the dude can’t even stay awake, so how can he accomplish anything? Hahahaha).

Anyhow, I thought that I could make a contribution passing on what I know to high school students, but I was wrong. You are right, I was not a very good teacher, but thankfully, it only wasted part of a year of my life. I didn’t like it and I would have quit it to go back into research anyhow, it was just that I got in with a school that was in such bad shape (having gone through so many science/math staff in only a few years) that I was fired before the year’s end. I appreciate your concern though, but don’t worry about me: right now I work on war-related research and believe me, I am extremely well funded.

OK, now that’s that out of the way I want to thank you Todd. You see, being a scientist, I’ve spent my career trying to find and understand the truth. As a consequence, I don’t like fakers, esp. in education. My original plan here was to expose what TJ was really like. I was looking for someone who was not so bright, would swallow troll bait whole, and then help me make my point, and I have to admit, in this respect God just served you up on a platter to me. First, I though Seth would bite. He did, a bit but then his father probably advised him to cease and desist. You, on the other hand, I doubt that your father and you spend much time together. He is too busy to be bothered with you, I imagine, and so he let’s you kind of run loose without any real help or guidance. But I digress. So, then you came along, having failed a freshman level class at a state university (and BTW, nobody believes the lie about you having all those teachers in one years. I’ve never seen such a thing, and it’s a bunch of baloney.), admits the school is not dedicated to an educational philosophy (or “education is a means to an end”, as you so eloquently put it), and then admitted that you now are going to a low-rate university! I couldn’t have made a better catch. Thank you again for helping me make my points and getting the truth out there. (I am sure you have many other classmates who are also very proud of you at this point.)

Anyhow, you can post whatever lies/excuses/accusations/whining you want at this point, I won’t argue with you anymore (in fact, I won’t even look at your response, how’s that for hands off?). You’ve served your purpose, I have no further use for you, and I know nothing else you could say would be of the least bit of interest to me.

Matt B. ;>)

Anonymous said...

"You are right, I was not a very good teacher"
Well that just settled this whole blog.

And that's a very impressive amount of achievements. I'm glad you just spent 30 minutes trying to prove your life's worth to a 20 year old in jomo. Somebody will love you... somday.

We love you Matthew Brennamen... we'll always hold you close in our hearts...

Anonymous said...

Mr. Brenneman,

I was a student in your eighth grade math class those few miserable months you worked at TJ.

I never once fell asleep in class; I knew the answers when you asked me a question although it seemed I was spacing out. Yet somehow I was failing every homework assignment. Perhaps it was my fault for being a dedicated student; I don't know. I recall days, even weeks, spent asking you how you solved a problem and not getting an answer. Students who did the homework together, who helped each other work through the problems, students who had the same answers got extremely different grades.

We were about to learn how to "FOIL," and one student, after not receiving adequate assistance from you, asked an older student for help. You counted it all wrong because that wasn't the way WE were doing the homework. It was still correct; it was still a viable answer, yet you refused to accept it because it was not your way. It was not that students did not want to learn. I know that I very much wanted to learn! We just were not able to or were not allowed to learn in any way that was not your way.

Furthermore, any student who so much as smiled in your class was immediately sent to the principal's office. A classmate of mine smiled at another classmate and was cast out of class.
I understand doing such a thing for students who are continually chattering, but she didn't even make a sound.

Also, if you had not been such a failure as a teacher, we would not have been talking; we would have been intent on the message of the lesson.

Perhaps if you hadn't been so inept, we would not have had to replace you for the remainder of the year with an ENGLISH teacher who had not studied that subject since he himself was in high school or college, a teacher who had to reeducate himself each night and practice the subject with students in tutorial.

I am in no way criticizing your skills as a mathematician. Mr. Kinast himself has said you are a brilliant mathematician. I simply do not believe you were qualified to teach on a high school or middle school level and that blaming the school for your own ineptitude is ludicrous.

As for the generalizations about the school, such that we only let in the best athletes or that we have to be rich or uppity, I join in laughter with Todd.

If our athletes were the best, surely the girls' basketball team would have won more than a few scattered games. Surely the soccer team would be first in state!
There are many students here who have no hand-eye coordination past being able to hold a pencil.

In conclusion, judgements on Thomas Jefferson should be reserved for people who have the full experience and not just a taste.
Thank you,

Anonymous said...

I am a student at Thomas Jefferson. I couldn't be more grateful for the education that I am getting. Thomas Jefferson strives for excellence.

Joplin High School makes a big deal about sending a kid to Harvard. What about us? Why don't we get attention in the newspaper like they did? We had a student get a full ride to Harvard. We have had a student go to Princeton. Last year, we had a graduate accepted at Brown. Why don't we get congratulated for academic excellence?

If I did not go Thomas Jefferson, I would have not had many opportunities to excel in my interest area. Thomas Jefferson wants students to be able to be the best at what they like to do.

Regardless of the teachers that have been let go, or what goes on within the administration, it is the student that makes the high school what it is. This year, our National Honor Society has more programs to help out the community than past years combined! Our STUCO actually cares about bringing school spirit to the student body. We have a Mock Trial team! We have a Chess Team! Our Academic Bowl team dominates State each year. We now have a middle school band!!! We are growing each year.

I give my total respect for any teacher that worked at our school. Thomas Jefferson strives for excellence. I am DANG proud to be a cavalier.

Anonymous said...

First of all I would like to comment on how sad I feel about how vicious some people can be. As a graduate from T.J. I am proud to say that I am not of upper-middle class or elite as some may call. Instead I am of lower midddle class who desired to make something of myself. The education I received at Thomas Jefferson has been benefcial to me throughout my collegiate career. I cannot believe how judgemental people have been on this link. Mr. Humphreys has donated a large amount of money and effort to Thomas Jefferson. All I would like to say is that I am thankful for the education I have received and the people I have met in going to T.J. I have successfully achieved my B.S. in biology/emphasis on pre-medicine. I graduated biology graduate of the year from Missouri Southern State University where I had the opportunity to play collegiate tennis. MSSU is a great college and I would never knock it down as someone did in their previous post. MSSU and TJ has given me the opportunity to be on the successful road of achieving my doctorate which I am now very close to accomplishing. I might also add that my fiance, a former T.J. graduate has achieved his business degree and is now a successful businessman at an established institute. I am so very sorry how heartless people can be and I thank good everyday for what I have been given. No matter where someone has EARNED an education one should just be happy for the opportunity to do so.

Anonymous said...

As a current student, all I would like to say is that everything previously said really does not apply. I am definitely not from the upper class, and probably not anywhere near middle class. I've been at TJ for a considerable amount of time now, and without TJ, I would have never achieved any of the things that I have. Needless to say, the education is exceptional at TJ, regardless of the teachers themselves. The rigorous structure and heavier workload is what helps us so much. I can understand how some might be upset at students from our school from the past, but I cannot say anything for them but only vouch for myself when I say that TJ is one of the best things that has ever happened to my education and has taught me dedication, hard work, and reward. I'm sorry that some people can't choose to keep their negative opinions to themselves, when quite frankly, they don't need to be said. All in all, TJ is a great environment for those who embrace it and the opportunities it unfolds, and I am a proud Cavalier.

Anonymous said...

I know this is a very old post but I just wanted to say this because it personally upset me seeing some comments about how TJ is just for the 'elite', referring to their status money-wise. I do agree with those who said that to go there, one must really work hard and get good grades however, the amount it costs depends. I am a student at Thomas Jefferson and my family isn't rich in the least. TJ doesn't admit students because they are 'elite', they admit them because they are smart. I have a scholarship to go to Thomas Jefferson and that is because I was smart enough to get it and so are some of my old classmates from Joplin public schools. I've only been at this school for two years and it's been a wonderful experience for me. I've gotten the chance to go to an accepting society of students who not only accepted me but helped me to get along with everything. TJ, to me, is the perfect environment for a student because it teaches you everything you need to know to succeed. By that, I don't mean just how to get good grades and pass tests but how to be polite, to be respectful but at the same time, how to have fun.