Meet Ian Hodges, MA’s Resident “Hypebeast Math Teacher”

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Meet Ian Hodges, MA’s Resident “Hypebeast Math Teacher”

While Ian has heard the title as a

While Ian has heard the title as a "hypebeast math teacher", he also keeps it clean and casual with a wide array of fun button ups and sweaters.

While Ian has heard the title as a "hypebeast math teacher", he also keeps it clean and casual with a wide array of fun button ups and sweaters.

While Ian has heard the title as a "hypebeast math teacher", he also keeps it clean and casual with a wide array of fun button ups and sweaters.

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We all know one of those guys.  Decked out head to toe in the hottest trends and styles.  We know the look, a Supreme cap, off-white t-shirt, Bape Jacket and of course some exclusive shoes that just hit the racks.  All tell-tale signs of one thing: hypebeast. Most of us share a similar image when we picture a hypebeast, an edgy gen Z or millennial kid, flexing name brands just for the fun of it.  

Those of us who have not had a class with MA’s newest addition to the math department, Ian Hodges, know him by another name, “the hypebeast math teacher.” I’ll be honest, before I interviewed him, I too used this oversimplified and slightly misguided phrase to describe Ian.  It makes sense. A quick glance at one of his OOTDs and Ian checks all the boxes of a hypebeast. Sitting across from me with a bowl of soup and button up that appears to be decorated with cacti, or some other succulent, Ian exudes cool. But the clothes and shoes are where the Geometry and Algebra teacher’s hypebeast attributes end.   

For Ian, the clothes, the shoes, the way he presents himself to the world is not a mere symbol of status or opulence like mainstream media may have us believe.  On the contrary, the material goods, brands, and labels serve as a relic of a childhood that too many of us is familiar: being left behind in a land of fortune.

Family has always been a top priority for Ian. Living in Marin, being close to his family was an important motivator in his decision to join the MA Community.

Coming from humble beginnings in Novato, CA, Ian quickly learned the importance of financial security and stability.  Living with a single mother and a younger brother, life was never particularly easy for Ian, “it was tough…many people have it tougher, but growing up in Marin and not having the same access to things that your peers do.  It was…really rough”.

Unlike many in Marin, Ian’s mother was not a CEO or stockbroker.  She was a teacher. And unlike most fourth graders, Ian and his mother began fourth grade together.  While for some, having a teacher for a mom may make a transition into teaching quite seamless, for Ian, it was anything but.  If anything it did just the opposite: “I always thought I wanted to be doing something else with my life because I just know how we struggled and I didn’t want those same financial struggles”.  

Now before we begin a breakdown and analysis of Ian’s valiant successes (and the occasional failure) that brought him to this small desk in a dimly lit classroom decorated with posters celebrating the wonders of sine and cosine, I must give you the same warning he gave me, “it’s a little bit of a long story”.

Ian’s exit from student life into the workforce begins where many stories end.  His initial plan was quite straightforward “get a job, start working in a kitchen [and] work [his] way up to becoming a chef”.  But by coincidence or as Ian described it, “fate”, something, no, someone in a J. Crew window caught his attention. Their timing in high school had never been right, and only as Ian was beginning his life’s plan she gave him an offer to work with her that he just couldn’t pass up.  And with that, Ian rerouted, leaving his culinary dreams behind for what would turn out to be an unexpected affair with retail.

Ian didn’t just work retail.  He was retail. He worked in every retail position until he was the boss’ boss.  Having held positions in retail from Abercrombie to Zara, and every Nike and Mango between, “it got to a point where I was just reopening new stores.  I would work 90 hours a week and never have any time for real scheduled to myself”. So when a new position as a broker in the financial industry came knocking, Ian rerouted once again. “[R]ight at the wrong time”.

Just as he had finished preparing for this new opportunity “the bottom of the market fell out”.  Despite the market in shambles, Ian stayed. “It was miserable…it was some of the worst years I can remember”.   After being let go from his job, Ian had one question: “what took them so long?”.

Leaving cooking and retail, Ian’s direction seemed obvious.  The signs in his life had all pointed to the next step. The girl in J Crew, the 90 hour work weeks, all made it clear it was time to leave, and where to go next.  But leaving finance, Ian’s compass was broken. Spinning around in circles one second pointing North, the next South. He had to reroute but had no idea in which direction.

Life as a math teacher is anything but boring. Outside of the classroom, Ian splits his life between fatherhood, snowboarding, beer trading, and collecting shoes, toys, and video games.

There was one option that, despite his early hesitance, could prove as a way out of a precarious situation.  “[I] was always jokingly saying if I won the lottery I’d go back and teach math…I realized I’d rather be doing something I want and we can make the money work”.  After his own experiences throughout his childhood, Ian spent much of his adult life trying to build a stable foundation. One that would allow him to give himself, but more importantly his own family, the things he didn’t have access to.  Leaving finance and retail, Ian had begun to create the foundation he needed to pursue his own desires, and for the first time, focus on himself now, rather than in the future.

Ian’s life experiences have also shaped his own teaching philosophy.  Having taught math in Title I Charter schools, his transition to MA came as somewhat of a surprise.  “It’s an independent school that tends to trend towards more money and more wealth, but it was also the school that had a deeper understanding of the values that held true to what I was doing beforehand…equity, diversity, and inclusion”. Understanding his own experience, and building empathy with his students has been a driving motivator during Ian’s teaching career.  Throughout his years as a teacher and a mentor, connecting and sharing with students, Ian’s perspective on his career has grown greatly: “it’s less about my love for math and more about my love for teaching”.

Ian’s story is quite ironic.  Through teaching- the very thing his younger self swore he would never do- Ian has been able to establish a foundation of stability and security that has allowed him to develop passions that many explore during childhood.  “I collect toys [and] play video games, and I think all of that is harkening back to the childhood that I kind of feel like I missed out on”.

As Ian walks through the BBLC most eyes drift to his shoes.  They’re his favorites: green and black Jordans so crisp they could have just come out of the box.  But Ian doesn’t just wear the shoes for the “hypebeast” label. He wears them for his younger self.  The Ian whose first pair of Jordans were “hand me down from a friend that lived in the same apartment complex that I paid 20 bucks for.  The air pockets were all burst out already…They were worn out, but I just thought it was great because had a pair of Jordans”.

Living a life his younger self would have scoffed at — becoming a teacher, following his mother’s footsteps while simultaneously crafting his own path — Ian has afforded himself the clothes, games, and most importantly the shoes that seemed unattainable during his childhood.  Despite the labels and brand names, Ian is more than the hype.