Canton High math team continues winning ways under legendary teacher, coach

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The CHS math team captured both the state and regional championships in 2015.

The CHS math team captured both the state and regional championships in 2015.

Legendary Canton High School mathematics teacher and former department chair Martin Badoian had been teaching math for several years when a friend who was also a math teacher told him that she had started a math team for students at her high school.

Badoian was intrigued, but had a question for her. “What’s a math team?” he asked her. The answer, Badoian learned, was a group of students who meet with a coach to sharpen their math skills and solve increasingly more challenging problems.

The current CHS math team won both the state and New England championships this spring, continuing a long tradition of winning under Badoian’s leadership. Their dual wins this spring are the team’s first in about ten years. Badoian said that the team won one or both of the awards every year from 1980 to 1999, and it has kept on winning into the 21st century.

Badoian, 86, is finishing his 61st year of teaching, the last 55 at Canton High School. Born to Armenian parents in Haverhill, he grew up in Nashua, New Hampshire, and graduated from Nashua High School, where he was a strong student of mathematics. His mother was the first Armenian graduate of the same school. “She was a pillar of strength,” he said. “I followed in her footsteps.”

He spent 18 months in the military and then enrolled at Brown University on the GI Bill. He recalled that after going to orientation, he met with an advisor to register for classes. The advisor told Badoian that engineering was a field he should pursue and showed him what his schedule would be for the upcoming semester. Badoian saw classes in the mornings and more obligations in the afternoons. “What are those?” he asked the advisor. “Labs,” was the response. “No labs,” Badoian told the man. “Sign me up for math.”

He earned a degree in mathematics, played varsity baseball and was captain of the basketball team. He moved on to Milford High School, where he taught math and coached basketball and then spent three years at Brockton High School teaching and coaching. He then spent a year at Boston College, taking ten math courses. “I found that my interest in math was increasing,” he said. He also has a master’s degree in education from American International College in Springfield.

Badoian planned to return to Brockton High, but learned that he would not be coaching. So when a friend called him and told him about an opening for a math department head at CHS, he applied for the job and was hired. In 1964, he began an in-house math team at CHS: Four teams of students competed against each other at problem solving, then tallied the scores and enjoyed refreshments. Two years later, Badoian started a team that competed against other schools in the Greater Boston Math League.

From the beginning Badoian said that they were a team to be reckoned with, a smaller and lesser known school competing against schools he described as powerhouses and doing extremely well. The math team still meets regularly, honing their skills and solving problems, with the students creating problems for others during their practice sessions.

Badoian has great memories of the teams he has coached. One of those memories makes him laugh even today. Years ago, Badoian and one of the teams decided to go out for dinner after one of their competitions. During the meal, Badoian asked the students if he had given them some particular math sheets. They told him that he had not. “That’s okay,” he said. “I have them in my trunk.”

After they finished eating the group moved outside and the young people crowded around Badoian’s opened trunk as he handed out worksheets. Suddenly, a man approached Badoian and asked what he was doing. “I think he thought I was pushing dope,” Badoian said laughing. He explained the situation and everyone moved on.

As he enters his seventh decade of teaching, Badoian remains passionate about his work and deeply committed to his students. Recently, one of his students and math team members, sophomore Dasol Lee, chose to write about Badoian for an essay contest sponsored by Barnes and Noble. Students were invited to write about a favorite teacher, and Lee wrote about the impact that Badoian has had on her, ending her essay with a formula for a favorite teacher that included Badoian’s personality traits. Her piece was chosen as one of the winners, and Badoian was invited to the bookstore to hear Lee read her words to him.

L-R: CHS Math Department Chair Dr. Michael Curry, Marty Badoian, and Dasol Lee at Barnes and Noble

L-R: CHS Math Department Chair Dr. Michael Curry, Marty Badoian, and Dasol Lee at Barnes and Noble

“It was a surprise to me,” Badoian said. “What she wrote was so wonderful. She’s quite a young lady.”

“He’s pushed me to do better in math,” Lee said. “He’s had a really big influence on me. He works really hard for us. He’s always there after school. Winning was a nice end to the year.”

Badoian stressed that while he has worked hard with his students, they are the ones who have achieved success. “I never scored a point,” he said. “The students deserve all the credit.”

Badoian officially retired several years ago, but continued teaching and plans to be back in classroom 248 in the fall for another year of teaching and coaching.

“I love what I do,” he said, “and I enjoy it. It keeps me young. My mind is alert and it keeps me in good health. I love teaching here.”

CHS Math Team: Seniors Liam Collins, Yasmine Elkadi, Eddie Huang, Dan Klein, Damian Kozak, Andrew Moy, Dylan Winchell; juniors Sung Ahn, Mark Clancy, Rigel Galgana, Mike Larsen, Nick MacGregor, Brendan Mullaley, Ngoc-Tran Nguyen, Oren Vishny; sophomores Izzy Bankowski, Kyran Chu, Dasol Lee, Eric Solomon; and coaches Martin Badoian, Jessica Duggan and Paul Dybdahl.

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