MOOREFIELD, W.Va. – Two full-time faculty members joined Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College in August.
Anthony “Tony” Prato, Ph.D., will be teaching math at Eastern. The Nevada native recently moved to Petersburg after teaching in high schools and colleges in the Las Vegas area. Prato holds a master of science degree in mathematics education from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and a Ph.D. in public affairs, also from UNLV. Prato said the two areas intertwine because of the statistical analysis components in his public affairs research.
Prato acknowledges that many students feel stress about learning math, but math is “… more creative than people realize,” he said. One of his favorite comparisons is to chess, a game with a clear objective, and a set of rules guiding the action. Math, Prato explained, also has an objective and a set of rules that define the possible actions for solving a problem. Once he can encourage students to consider a math problem as a miniature chess game, the challenge becomes more fun and less stressful for the students. Prato said he also provides students with many opportunities to practice problem-solving skills individually and with classmates during class meetings.
Nathan Van Vranken, a resident of New Creek, is the college’s Biological and Environmental Technology (BET) program coordinator, and he will also teach a variety of science courses and labs. The Texas native has taught biology, geology, and geography at several colleges, most recently at WVU Potomac State College, while also devoting many years to paleontological research at active study sites throughout Texas, North Dakota, and Maryland. Van Vranken holds a master of science degree in geology from the University of Texas at the Permian Basin and graduate-level certification from West Virginia University in geographic information systems (GIS).
Providing hands-on learning experience to students is important, Van Vranken said, and he plans to continue the BET program’s tradition of field studies, whether delivered in-person or through GoPro-style videos for online classes. He also stressed that individualized mentorship is a key component in his teaching.
Eastern, based in Moorefield, serves six rural counties in West Virginia’s Potomac Highlands with academic programs and short-term workforce trainings. Eastern is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. For more information, visit easternwv.edu.