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The City Journals

Herriman teacher wins big on ‘Jeopardy!’

Jun 28, 2018 05:05PM ● By Jet Burnham

Steve Mond won $25,000 for his third-place finish. (Photo courtesy Jeopardy Productions, Inc)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Steve Mond, math teacher at Real Salt Lake Academy in Herriman, won third place and $25,000 in the “Jeopardy!” Teachers Tournament, which aired in mid-May. 

“I’ve been watching the show for 30 years, so being on it is always something I wanted to do,” said Mond, who lives in Midvale. 

For his students who weren’t familiar with the trivia game show, Mond used a sports analogy to explain his weeklong absence from class. 

“If you think of knowledge as a sport, this was the major leagues for me,” he told them. 

The Teachers Tournament showcased 15 of the country’s sharpest educators competing for a $100,000 grand prize. Larry Martin, a second-grade teacher from Kansas, won the  top prize. Claire Bishop, a high school Latin teacher from Kentucky, placed second and took home $50,000. 

In addition to personal winnings, each contestant was awarded a $2,500 educational grant provided by Farmers Insurance’s Thank America’s Teachers program to fund classroom projects. 

Mond plans to use the grant money to purchase podcasting equipment. 

“Our school has a focus on technology,” said Mond. “It seemed like podcasting would be a nice hands-on piece of technology to have in the school.” 

RSL Academy Principal Grant Stock is thrilled. 

“We are a STEM school and have 1:1 technology here at our school,” said Stock. “The podcasting equipment will help to enhance and expand our vision of implementing technology into all aspects of our school.” The podcasting equipment will be used to broadcast school announcements. Teachers will also be able to use it to record their classroom activities and lectures, allowing access to students and parents. 

“This will allow students to review content that was taught or to learn content before they show up to class so they can be more fully engaged,” said Stock. Podcasting would also make class content available to students who were absent. 

Stock said Mond’s gameshow experience has also revitalized his enthusiasm for teaching. While contestants waited to tape their episodes, they spent hours in the Green Room swapping stories, lesson ideas and teaching strategies. 

“He told us that it was one of the very best professional development events he had ever attended,” said Stock. “He said he felt more excited about teaching then he had in a long time.”

Mond already uses games with his math students.

“We’ve done some things to include trivia and to include games with what they’re learning,” he said. 

He created a math relay race, challenging students to run to the end of the hall, solve a math problem and run back to tag the next team member to solve the next problem. 

He also worked with colleagues to prepare a cross-curricular competition for ninth-graders in which they competed for points by answering questions in categories related to their core subjects of English, math, science, social studies and geography. 

Mond said he has always been a trivia fan. 

“I like knowing things,” he said. “I was the kind of student that just liked to learn things whether or not there was a grade attached. I wasn’t there to necessarily get an A; I was there to learn the material.” 

He believes learning doesn’t just happen in a classroom. 

“I liked to connect things I was learning to things I was seeing out in the world,” he said. He continues to broaden his knowledge base by traveling and by interacting with students and colleagues. 

Mond felt confident going into the tournament, having researched about what to expect and having watched the show for most of his life. He also knew he had a good knowledge base in a lot of topics. 

He also thinks teachers make good “Jeopardy!” contestants. 

“The schools I’ve taught at have had some really well-educated and sharp folks,” he said. “I think just being around people with different backgrounds, and different knowledge bases certainly helped.”