After only two years in the business world, and several more earning a master’s degree in education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Bacak embraced his true calling – teaching.
Bacak found his first teaching job at a Title 1 school in Washington D.C. with many similarities to the one that sparked his career. He spent five years investing in the lives of elementary school children from the inner city, using math as a connection to overcome economic hardships by teaching financial literacy.
“Math is a subject often viewed with dread and disdain by middle school students,” Bacak said. “My best hope for breaking through this attitude is to connect the subject to the real world and convince students of its relevance to their lives. I strive to incorporate common encounters with real-world math in as many lessons as possible.”
The Title 1 educational program provides additional federal funds to schools with especially high concentrations of students living in poverty. The Title 1 designation not only made the content of Bacak’s lessons more impactful, but it meant the government put more resources into tracking his students’ success.
“I focus lessons on my students’ hobbies and interests to draw them in and make learning more entertaining,” Bacak said. “My goal as an educator is always mastery of a concept, which does not truly happen until students are able to recognize, understand, and apply it outside the pages of a math book.”
Bacak moved back to Tuscaloosa eight years ago to begin a family, but he still applies the same teaching methods as a sixth-grade math teacher at Echols Middle School. Regardless of their background, he recognizes that each student faces their own unique struggles, and he strives to make a lasting impact on each student.
“Teachers, like myself, need to build students’ confidence and knowledge in the subject area they teach,” Bacak says. “We should have high expectations, encourage them to give their best every day, and empower them to overcome any obstacles in their way.”