From Finance to Functions: Math Teacher Mr. Redford Shares His Story


Seleste Maldonado Ruiz

Although he was born in the U.K., math teacher Mr. Kieron Redford now feels at home in the U.S.

Seleste Maldonado Ruiz, Staff Reporter

Updated Nov. 9, 2022

Mr. Kieron Redford, one of La Salle’s math teachers, grew up in a rural area in southwest England.

“You have to travel to school on a bus, and you have to get your parents to take you places if you wanted to go to the shops, the cinema, or see your friend,” Mr. Redford said. “So, it was quite remote but [a] beautiful, beautiful area.” 

While attending University of Leicester in the U.K., Mr. Redford traveled to the U.S. for the first time in August of 1997 for a year as an exchange student at Kent State University in Ohio. 

“I’d already moved from the rural area into the city to go to university,” Mr. Redford said. “But then this was me moving from a British city to an American one, and it was very different.”

Although Mr. Redford had moved into the city in order to attend the University of Leicester in the U.K., Ohio’s city was nothing like he expected it to be.

“Everything was just so much bigger, like the roads are bigger, and the buildings are bigger, and the cars are bigger, and the distances to get places is so huge compared to what I was used to,” Mr. Redford said. “But it was just funny because, at the same time, it was a small town in northeast Ohio.”

During his exchange year, Mr. Redford traveled to Cleveland, Chicago, and Pittsburgh, as well as visited Niagara Falls. He was also given the opportunity to meet new people and experience U.S. holidays and culture.

“We stayed at [a friend’s] house for Thanksgiving because I’d never experienced Thanksgiving before because we don’t have it, and then I stayed with another friend at Christmas,” Mr. Redford said. “Just seeing how different it could be was just really interesting and really exciting to experience.”

Experiencing not only the differences in holidays, celebrations, and customs in the U.S., Mr. Redford also noted his experience with the difference in the school systems in the U.S. from those in the U.K.

At university in the U.K., “I just studied math,” Mr. Redford said. “At [U.K.] universities, you don’t have to do a lot of the core elective classes. You just do your major, so every single class I did was a math class.”

Although both of Mr. Redford’s parents were teachers, he didn’t always know he wanted to follow the same path. He just knew he liked math and that he wanted to pursue something in that field.

“I didn’t know what to do because I went to some job interviews for finance, and it just seemed really dull [and] that you’d be stuck in an office,” Mr. Redford said. “I [also] went to a couple interviews in London, and it was just really flashy and too fast-paced for me. I couldn’t handle that.”

Mr. Redford felt astray and didn’t know what he was going to do after interviewing for jobs in finance that he found weren’t appealing to him or his ideals in a career, so he decided to get back in touch with the people he met in the U.S.

“I got really lucky,” Mr. Redford said. “There was an opening for a graduate school program in the math department, and it had a job attached to it. So, if I would teach some of their undergraduate classes, they would pay for my graduate degree.”

From working in that program, Mr. Redford was able to experience what it was like to be a teacher and fell in love with it.

“I did get my degree, but by the end of it I knew I didn’t want to go any further with the academic side of math,” he said. “I wanted to be the teacher. So that’s how I made that change.”

Mr. Redford’s favorite part about teaching is making connections with students.

“There’s something really positive and affirming [about] just being able to help young people that keeps me coming back,” Mr. Redford said.

After finally discovering his passion for teaching, Mr. Redford stayed in the U.S. and taught at a school in Ohio. He then moved to working at a school in Portland but decided to go back to the U.K. and taught at a “college,” which is equivalent to a school in the U.S. with high school juniors and seniors. After that, he decided to return to Oregon, where he is now in his eighth year of teaching at La Salle.

Not only is Mr. Redford a math teacher at La Salle and the math department chair, he also advises the National Honors Society (NHS). He is involved with the Pride Alliance and is a part of a new professional development initiative at La Salle, where a group of eight teachers who participated in a special program over the summer work to share some of what they learned about improving their teaching skills to the rest of the entire teaching staff.

“I have some extra responsibility in terms of the kinds of logistics of the [math] department and going to meetings and making sure we’re following up on certain department-type things,” Mr. Redford said.

Becoming the advisor to the NHS program was something that was recommended to him, and he happily took it on, not knowing too much about it, other than the fact that it was a program available at La Salle and that there were certain requirements in order for students to be a part of it.

Once he decided to take on the position as advisor and was informed about how the NHS works, he found out how service based it was, and that “a big deal” to him.

One of the main things that drew his attention to La Salle was the five core value banners hung in the hallway.

“The first time I came for my interview, I saw the banners in the hallway and was just really impressed and hoping that was something that was actually lived out here,” Mr. Redford said. “The fact that [one of the banners] was, ‘accept all people,’ makes a huge, huge difference coming in when you’re a person that hasn’t always been accepted in other situations.”

Holding true to his values and beliefs, Mr. Redford said, “I’m just really glad that we have [Pride Alliance] at school, a place and environment where all types of people can feel safe to chat and talk about certain issues.”