Professor John-Paul (J.P.) Pretti came to the University of Waterloo for his undergraduate degree and has stayed here ever since. He graduated with a Bachelor of Mathematics (joint degree in Combinatorics & Optimization and Pure Mathematics). Then, he went on to complete his Master of Mathematics (at UWaterloo, of course). And now? He is a lecturer for the University’s Faculty of Mathematics, and according to him, “the plan is to stay here forever”.
Professor Pretti began officially teaching in 1999, after the completion of his master’s degree. Recently, he was the recipient of one of the Faculty of Mathematics Awards for Distinction in Teaching. But, J.P.’s roles with the University of Waterloo’s math students stretch farther than classroom teaching. He is also based at St. Jerome’s University (SJU) and can be found taking up his SJU-related duties and participating in various mathematics events. He is an associate director of the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing (CEMC) which offers contests and resources to elementary and secondary schools (like the Euclid contest). He is also responsible for the all content on CEMC’s website and outreach to elementary and secondary schools.
The majority of the courses taught by Professor Pretti are first and second year mathematics and computer science courses. Generally, he teaches more computer science courses than math ones. As a student, he did take a course that he subsequently taught - "Algebra for Honours Mathematics" (Mathematics (MATH) 135). He finds teaching to be most rewarding when a student finally gets a hold of a difficult topic. He also enjoys sharing his excitement and enthusiasm towards a topic with his students, such as when a student gains interest in a subject that they were not particularly interested in before. Asking broader, more philosophical questions about computer science is also important to Professor Pretti’s teaching style. With this, he relates his lectures to subjects like sociology or economics to “help students connect it to real life and to their other courses”. J.P. also tries to pass words of wisdom on to his students. In the past, he has posted a daily “Wisdom of the day”, a single piece of advice, that can be unexpected, but can also be a more basic such as “Start your assignment early”, “Eat well”, or “Study in small chunks”.
Apart from teaching, Professor Pretti’s interests and hobbies can be seen by taking a look around his office. He is an avid Toronto Maple Leafs fan and enjoys playing and watching sports – although he insists that he mostly watches. He also admits that he is “addicted to playing chess online” and most importantly, loves to spend time with his friends and family. His desk and walls are covered with pictures of his children and their drawings. He even has a photo of two of his youngsters in Leafs gear, a photo of hockey and his children – the best of both worlds.