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For Math Teacher Albert Bossy, Coming to DIS Was a Matter of Analysis

Albert Bossy sees math everywhere - in the everyday tools we use, a casual trip to the grocery store, even in the way we get dressed in the mornings. For Albert, who has loved all things numerical for as long as he can remember, math undergirds every part of life - and can be used as a lens through which to study everything from history and geography to science and even philosophy.

“Math has always been my favorite subject - it is definitely my favorite subject to teach - because it’s not subjective,” he says. “Even though it can be seen by some as very black and white, yes or no, zero or one, it’s not like that when you think about how we use it. Math is like a tool box that we can use to explore the unknown. There is a philosophy surrounding pi and we still haven't even fully solved it yet.”

Albert sees this philosophical aspect of mathematics as key to unlocking its potential, sharing that while there is always an answer in math, in philosophy there never is. “You have to argue yes or no,” he says. “You have to look at the answer math gives you and then ask how you arrived at the answer and what it means. And then what do you do with it? That's the part that really excites me - what can you do with an answer?”

Albert also likes math because he appreciates the logic that forms its core. It teaches us that there is a process - a formula or equation, if you like - behind everything we do as humans. “I see that even in the way we get dressed to go to work in the morning,” he says. “There is a certain logic that needs to be followed: first socks, then shoes, right? You can't do it the other way around.”

And working to instill that kind of logical thinking in students is what Albert likes most about teaching, particularly at DIS. Smart students plus the ability to use creative approaches to teaching equals an especially conducive environment for learning.

For Albert, it’s not just about working through formulas and equations on the board, but rather applying the principles of mathematics to real world problems. “I try to link math to stories and to daily life all around us,” he says. “That makes it easier and more real - and definitely more fun and rewarding. It makes it practical for students, which makes it easier to learn.”

By way of example, Albert shares the story of how in ancient Rome, emperors used math to direct their armies, ensuring victory over many enemies. “Caesar developed a cipher device that encoded his instructions that was all based on math,” Albert shares. “It was an alphanumeric cipher that rotated so that each letter became another letter and that would mean ‘Attack at dawn’.”

It’s this analytical approach to using math that Albert likes the most because it yields dimension and depth so that he - and his students - can visualize what math really does. “If I’m buying car insurance, for example, I can use math to plot everything out - how much does one coverage cost compared to others and what am I getting from the policy? Math can help us visualize that, so we have much greater control over life,” he says.

Born in Aix-en-Provence near the port city of Marseilles in southern France, Albert appreciated the beauty of the region, with both mountains and the Mediterranean Sea close by. After graduating from the Aix-Marseilles University with a degree in math, he began teaching in local public schools - seven in all, including one school that he attended as a student - before asking the analytical question ‘what comes next?’

“My wife and I have three small children and a very happy life (Marie Bossy also teaches at Waterview). But then a friend of mine had moved to Texas and that got us wondering if we could do the same. I had been to America twice before and also to other countries around the world, and teaching in the United States really seemed like a fun and interesting thing to do,” he says. “We had heard from others that it could be very challenging to find teaching jobs here, but here we are.”

Believing that Dallas would be more arid, much smaller and far less densely populated, the Bossys were pleasantly surprised by the bustling city and the welcoming community of DIS. Moving from a village of 2,000 people to the burgeoning North Texas Metroplex has been an adjustment - but a pleasant one. “We’ve had the chance to get out and visit other cities - Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, even New Orleans - and there is a lot to see and do,” says Albert. He sums it up this way: “If the children are okay, then everything else is okay - and they love it here.”

That’s a pretty simple philosophy to follow. In his classroom at the Waterview campus, where he teaches students in 8th, 9th, 11th and 12th grades, he keeps his philosophy equally simple. “I don’t expect my students to always do my 100 percent, but I do expect them to do their 100 percent,” he says, adding that making mistakes is often the best way for students to learn. “And I expect them to work very hard in class because the more work we do here, the less work they have to do at home.”

The results of Albert’s efforts? “I think I’ve made math a subject that students are eager and excited to learn.”

And, in the final analysis, isn't that what really matters?