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West High teacher publishes AP textbook

BY EMILY FRIESE | SEPTEMBER 20, 2013 5:00 AM

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Tyson Smith’s goal is to help his students understand economics. Now, he can help thousands.

Smith, a West High teacher of 11 years, recently had his own Advanced Placement textbook published by the Research and Education Association. It publishes other textbooks to help students prepare for the ACT, SAT, MCAT, as well as Advanced Placement exams.

Titled AP Microeconomics and Macroeconomics: All Access, Smith refers to it as a “test-prep book,” coinciding with the courses he teaches.

Following a short stint at West Des Moines Valley High, Smith has taught both Advanced Placement European History and Advanced Placement Economics over the last several years.

As of now, Smith says he cannot say for certain whether he is the only teacher in the district to have written and published a textbook.

“I do know of one or two other teachers here [at West] who have had things they’ve written published, although I don’t know if they’d be in the textbook or test-prep category,” he said. A faculty member in the English Department has written literary works, included novellas.

In May, as the end of the end of the school year was approaching, Smith said, the publisher contacted him to ask if he would work on a textbook for its test-prep line.

Prior to that, Smith served as a content editor for the company.

“Sometimes, people work hard writing the book and trying to get it published,” Smith said. “I was fortunate enough to have a publisher ask me to write a book.”

While an initial printing process began in August, the book is solely available on Amazon.com and the Barnes & Noble website. Smith said physical copies will not be available until later this month.
West High Principal Jerry Arganbright, said the school is very fortunate to have Smith.

“When I heard he had published this book, I can’t say I was totally surprised,” he said.  “He takes a lot of interest and has a lot of passion for what he teaches. I think it’s admirable when someone goes to the effort of putting her or his thoughts together to help others.”

Although UI sophomore Megan Chase said she never had the opportunity to have Smith as a teacher, recent accolades speak volumes to the educational quality present in the district.

“There’s something special about the teachers; they become your friends,” she said.  “They make sure you are going to do well, they want you to succeed, and they don’t want to be your enemy.”

Arganbright said it’s important to not forget that the “foundation of the great educational setting” is based on the quality of the adults and what they can offer the students.

“I think Tyson is certainly a representative of that fact, and I think that him publishing this text is a reflection on all educators,” he said.

Arganbright said there is a perception that those in distant regions publish the textbooks that help advanced learning, but there are teachers in the district doing the same things.

“I think the reality is that we have intellectually and very talented people capable of doing the task in the district,” he said. “It’s always an advantage to our schools.”

While grateful for the recent help in publishing the textbook, Smith said, he does not plan on publishing in the near future.

UI sophomore Joe Henderson, a former student of Smith’s, said the teacher held his students to high expectations, yet he always reached out to those needing extra help.

“He was always willing to go beyond the curriculum to answer questions applying the knowledge we gained in class to current situations,” he said. “I would expect nothing less of him.”

For Smith, the hope is that the textbook will help students locally, nationally, and internationally in preparing for an exam in economics.

“Even if I don’t make money from this, I would certainly hope that working on this has helped me become a better instructor for my students and provide service anywhere in the Advanced Placement economics world,” he said.


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