After a quarter century of teaching mathematics at Citrus College, this will be the last semester for Alan Tussy. His philosophy on education: “My dad used to tell me this all the time: ‘Get your education because it is something that can never be taken away from you.’”
Tussy has been teaching math for 39 years, 14 at Arcadia High School, and 25 years here at Citrus College. He has written nine mathematics books including “Pre-Algebra,” “Elementary Algebra” and “Intermediate Algebra.” These books are nationally recognized and used in many different states, which gives him the chance to travel and speak with math instructors across the country.
“I get to contribute to the mathematics field on a national level, which is a real blessing,” Tussy said.
He has always loved the classroom and teaching. When he was a child he would make pretend math worksheets for his younger brother to complete at home.
He met his wife Liz Tussy on the way to becoming a mathematics teacher at the University of Redlands. The couple now live in Glendora with their three sons Kevin, Glenn and Brandon and will celebrate their 41st wedding anniversary this June.
Citrus College has been like a second home to the Tussy family. Each of them have attended Citrus College at some point by either taking classes or teaching them. Liz Tussy participated in the orchestra, and early on their children were placed in the child development center. Tussy said, “Citrus has been a huge part of our lives.”
Over 25 years Citrus College has went through many changes, from the students to the buildings. Tussy recalls his first day at Citrus College and a computer was being placed in front of him. He had no idea how to use this new technology.
The most important lesson Tussy want his students to learn is that mathematics is a language. “It’s my mission to teach them to read, write, speak and understand the language of math,” Tussy said. “I teach math as if I was teaching a language.”
Keeping the student’s attention is central to educational development now, he said. Finding ways to get through to his students is his goal.
Business administration major Matthew Chavez, 21, has had professor Tussy for two semesters. He said that he did not understand math at all until he studied with Tussy, and now he is getting an A in math.
“I was discouraged with math when I walked in his class the first day, it was fast paced and he gave a lot of homework,” Chavez said. “But now I have an A, and I’m happy I had him his last semester.”
Tussy said the most rewarding teaching outcome is the “Eureka!” moment, when the proverbial light bulbs inside the student turns on right before his eyes. His unorthodox methods of teaching get through to his students.
For example he requires parts of the math lessons, homework and tests to be written in red pen. This makes an impression on students and they remember. Tussy receives emails from former students saying that they now see algebra as forever red.
Mathematics professor Mohamad Trad, a former student now Citrus College fellow faculty member exemplifies what Tussy inspires. Trad remembers not only the use of colors but also board organization and body language from his ‘92-’93 class. He describes Tussy as a leader in the math department.
“We hate to lose that leader- ship, and we will all hate to see him go,” he said. Tussy and his wife have plans to enjoy their cabin up in Big Bear. He will continue to travel discussing mathematics and talking with other instructors. He also would like to volunteer more at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena.
Breanna Barbon, 23, a business administration and account- ing major summed it up. “He has made me realize how much a college education means, and I am actually thinking about minoring in math now.”
“The math department along with Citrus College as a whole will greatly miss Professor Tussy. He has put in so much time and effort he deserves his retirement,” Bar- bon said.