Resonance is not something students learn from a book in Len Coryea’s sixth grade science class at Hillsboro Middle School. Instead, students meandered around the classroom Friday, bouncing tuning forks off their palms and shoe soles, experimenting with ways to make a louder vibration.
“We are studying sound and noise,” Coryea said. “Sometimes learning gets loud and messy.”
Principal Greg Brown said Coryea, a 24-year teacher for USD 410, is exceptional because he continually looks for new and different ways to engage his students.
“You have to allow students time to mess around with projects,” Coryea said. “At this age, they still need some time to play and figure things out on their own.”
Coryea said he particularly enjoyed teaching middle school classes because the students were not too sophisticated yet to be excited about learning things.
“They are at the age where they like to talk about things, anything,” he said. “We have to spell out our expectations beforehand, but once they understand the boundaries, then we can have some fun.”
In addition to experimenting with tuning forks on Friday, Coryea said his sixth grade science students were also making flutes from elderberry wood.
“Right now they just look like a bunch of sticks,” he said. “But we are always messing around with them, hollowing them out, learning what will make sound and how to amplify it.”
Prior to teaching at Hillsboro, Coryea taught for seven years in the Circle school district near El Dorado, and four years at Bluestem.
“I will always argue that students can get a better education at smaller schools,” Coyrea said. “There are so many more opportunities for them to experience and individuals can do so much more at small schools.”
Coryea also teaches reading, Kansas history, and English at Hillsboro Middle School, and is a field events coach for junior high and high school track students. He formerly coached high school football for five years.
“Sometimes I wonder if there was a job I could have had that made more money,” he said. “But I know I would never have found anything that was as much fun as teaching.”
Coryea and his wife, Brenda, live in Hillsboro and have one adult son who is married with a child.