Matthew Hansen '84, mathematics teacher and dean of academics at Orange Lutheran High School, received this year’s Distinguished Service Award from CUI, honoring his more than thirty years of teaching and pioneering in the sciences.
“Interacting with students and their personalities is the best part of my day,” Hansen says. “I really love the art of teaching — how you best reach students, how you assess if they’re learning. I love trying to figure out what works in the classroom.”
Hansen led the founding of a rigorous STEM Academy (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics) at Orange Lutheran. He serves as its director.
That’s going to be the legacy. Those are the people who will carry Orange Lutheran forward through the next three decades.
“I was looking for a way to give opportunities and motivation to our top math and science students,” Hansen says. “I thought there was more we could do to encourage them and give them even more knowledge about career pathways and so forth.”
Hansen has coached basketball off and on through the years, and played basketball at CUI.
“My college years were the best. That’s where I found myself, figured out what was important, and gained self-confidence,” he says. “The friends I made then are my best friends now.”
At CUI, Hansen started to envision himself as a teacher.
“Dr. Robert Meyer, a part-time math professor, was the one that encouraged me to think about teaching and told me I had a gift with math and kept saying, ‘Here’s the next class you’re going to take,’” Hansen says. “He was very influential. Ken Ebel is the other one who was always a positive influence in mentoring.”
Hansen’s first reaction upon learning he received this year’s award was to “make sure a friend wasn’t playing a joke on me. Then it felt good to be appreciated and acknowledged.”
He appreciates Orange Lutheran’s continued emphasis on prayer and praise as a community.
“Chapel is a highlight for students and faculty,” he says. “Everybody goes into the gym, 1,300 students and another one hundred faculty and staff. Those are moving times for our school. Spirituality pervades everything that we do here at Orange Lutheran. That hasn’t changed but become more front and center.”
He is also proud of leading a committee to hire great teachers at Orange Lutheran.
“That’s going to be the legacy,” he says. “Those are the people who will carry Orange Lutheran forward through the next three decades.”
Hansen and wife Pam ('03) have two children.