In Focus

A MARK-EDLY GOOD FIT

KETKI SAMEL

           COPY EDITOR

  Students often wrongly think that teachers are only interested in the subject they teach; English teachers must go home and read, music teachers go to concerts over the weekend, and math teachers like to do calculus for fun. Pinewood’s new computer science teacher Haggai Mark, however, is an exception to this rule — while he loves
computers and programming, he also has an affinity for languages.

   Mark’s parents spoke about eight languages. Today, Mark can speak five languages (English, Hebrew, German, Spanish, and Yiddish) and is also fluent in over 10 programming languages. He
attributes this love for learning languages
to a greater desire to learn more about
the world.

   “In computer programming, there’s a famous guy who said, ‘You can learn all sorts of programming languages, but if the language doesn’t change the way how you
look at the world or how you solve a
problem, it’s not worth learning’. I
feel with [spoken] languages, it’s the same thing. You get to know the culture much better if you know the language,” Mark said.

   Apart from learning different languages, Mark also has a zeal for travel. He grew up in
Israel, only a two hour flight from mainland Europe; as a result, he travelled a lot with his
parents. The greatest trip he has ever been
on, he said, was one to South America
after the mandatory Israel military service.

   While Mark obviously has hobbies outside of programming, he also loves computer science; his passion began when, as a child, his father bought him an early computer.

   “It was kind of fun to do some programming and stuff like that. I guess that was kind of like the bug that bit me, and then it just stuck with me ever since,” Mark said.

   After studying engineering and computer science in Israel, Mark moved to the U.S.
to complete his master’s degree in
technology education at Stanford. After graduating, he worked as an engineer for 30
years here in California; he only decided
to become a teacher in the past five years.

   “I like the idea of switching careers, and doing something different, even while I was
in high-tech… I guess I’d like some
variety in what I’m doing. I doubt that
I would be an engineer forever,” Mark said.

  After his first few months teaching at Pinewood, Mark is glad to be a part of
the community.

   “[I like Pinewood because of] the more relaxed and learning-centered atmosphere. Even though it’s stressful, and people are really busy, and students are on-task really all the time, I think there’s also this more
serious approach to learning, which I like.
I like being able to learn for learning’s
sake,” Mark said.

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