West Anchorage High School’s Geometry and IB Math Studies teacher is a man on a mission.

"I just want [students] to be mathematically literate. I consider it my duty to my community, to my country even, to produce a mathematically literate generation coming up,” said Troll.

Now, in his third year teaching, Mr. Troll prefers to stay away from the textbook and relate his hands-on lessons to real life.

"I try to take the focus more off of the raw knowledge and the raw number and get it into the conceptual understanding. So, I'm constantly having them think on their feet,” explained Troll.

Whether estimating the height of a tree by looking at its shadow or figuring out why the moon perfectly blocks out the sun during a solar eclipse, Mr. Troll works to make sure none of his students have to ask, “When will I use this in the real world?”

"I want them to be problem solvers. I want them to not think of math as something that's obscure and only for the smartest people in society,” explained Troll. “I want them to see it as a tool that they can use every day.”

While the lessons are relatable, so is Mr. Troll. His students appreciate his humor and ability to communicate about things high schoolers are interested in. Troll said it’s part of the secret to his success.

"I think the main thing I try to do is relate to the students, on somewhat of a personal level,” said Troll. “I try to get to know them a little bit and make them feel comfortable here. I try to make them comfortable making mistakes. I don't think there's one key or one ticket. It's a lot of things combined.”

A life-long Alaskan, Troll grew up in Dillingham and got his Bachelors in Mathematics and Masters in Teaching at UAA.

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