Ananda Kimm-Drapeau, ‘18
Mr. Danquah is a new BHSEC math teacher with quite an interesting past. He was born in a rural area of Ghana, where his parents also came from. He attended an all-boys boarding school as a diligent student who was also occupied by various sports, like soccer. After high school, only several days before turning eighteen, he moved to the United States. He came “purely for academic reasons,” and arrived with the goal of becoming an architect. In Ghana, you choose a major in high school, and to support his, he focused on mathematics and visual arts.
Mr. Danquah says that his father’s original hope was for him and his siblings to become medical doctors. However, it become clear to him that medicine wasn’t the right field for him. He vaguely remembers dissecting a pig for biology lab class as a high school sophomore. He recalls waking up in a dorm after passing out during the task. After that, he knew a medical occupation would not right for him.
It wasn’t until he moved here that he really uncovered how passionate he was about math. His interest in visual arts lessened as his love for math took over. He says that he mostly likes math because, “It was a bit easier for me to confirm whether something was correct or not correct, and I enjoy that.” As a younger student, the Humanities field didn’t strike his fancy because he felt like there was always “a dependence on someone else to tell him how good something was.” He compares this with how following formulas and properties correctly will always make you correct. “I’m being my own judge,” he says.
His discovery that he was not going to pursue medicine did not limit his ambitions. He learned from one of his high school teachers that it was possible to become a doctor unrelated to the medical field. So after earning his master’s degree in mathematics and philosophy, he began furthering his education even more. This was with the plan of teaching at a university. However, one year into obtaining his PhD, a family situation required him to leave school.
He began teaching high school instead, and describes that change of plans, as “the best thing that could have happened.” He realized how much more he enjoyed working with high school students, in comparison to his experience as a student teacher with university students. He felt that in university, students generally focused more on getting work done, as opposed to how most high school students approach their school lives. “There’s this eagerness to know and understand why things were working the way they were, and not necessarily what the end result was.” After more experience with high school students, he realized that it was what he was looking for.
This is Mr. Danquah’s tenth year teaching high school students. He has previously taught at Baruch and Dewitt Clinton High School in the Bronx. He greatly enjoyed teaching at the latter and even created an AP Calculus program there, which for years was increasingly successful. After changes in one of the school’s authoritative positions, he found that his role at the school became less suited to what he wanted. “The focus wasn’t on students who are willing to do more than just the basics expected of them,” he says. He heard so many great words about BHSEC, and grew interested in working here. He felt very thankful when he was offered the opportunity to teach here.
Thus far, Mr. Danquah loves teaching at BHSEC. He enjoys the community of faculty members, the way teachers are able to be really passionate about what they are teaching, and go into depth about the subject matter. He explains that, “There’s a feeling that you can have an input. Things are not just decided for you, and teachers have the ability to make up a course so they can teach something they’re interested in.”
He also points out that BHSEC students have a key quality that he had never encountered before in students at other schools. In addition to being hard-working and well-prepared, they also have this unique desire to learn. For example, teachers here do not typically have to beg students to reach out for help. In fact, students are always reaching out to teachers. He tells how special that is, “That determination is the part of the students that I most enjoy here. It’s something that I never truly ran into.”
As of right now, Mr. Danquah would describe himself as very busy. Whenever he gets a chance, he loves to play his best and favorite sport, table tennis. He played competitively in Ghana, where he also played and found joy in other sports. He currently goes to SPiN NYC to play table tennis during some of his free time. However, he admits that since June, he hasn’t had the time to because he is working on getting everything situated.
He is married with a seven-year-old daughter, a five-year-old son, and is expecting a third child. His daughter is very good with numbers, and even better than he is. At some point in the future, he would like to work on an administrative degree to go back to Ghana. He learned from being here that a lot can be done for the education system back in Ghana, and he wants to help resolve the problem there.