Masterkey: Inside access to the career of Mr. Sonny Ahad

Kevin Rudolph

Contributing Writer

Mr. Ahad has been a staple of Milken Community High School for 19 years. His copyrighted phrases and teaching styles are known not only by students in his five physics classes, but also by most students at Milken. He has been teaching at Milken from the beginning, and was its first Physics teacher. In his 34 years of teaching he has amassed hundreds if not thousands of students, all of whom he still remembers by name. But besides his teaching method and his phrases, do we really know Mr. Ahad? I sat down with the master teacher and asked him a few questions in this first person investigatory report.

Mr. Ahad was born and raised in Burma, and at the age of 14, he took a physics class that changed his life. Within this class, Mr. Ahad listened to the teacher but lacked clarity with concepts and key understandings. He realized that it was not his lack of knowledge that caused his misunderstanding, but the way in which his teacher taught. To do well, Mr. Ahad decided to teach himself simple and easy physics strategies. The strategies worked so well, his friends and classmates asked him for help. At this young age of 14, Mr. Ahad knew he wanted to be a teacher. Today these simple and easy strategies are known as Master Keys.

When Mr. Ahad enrolled at the University of Rangoon, as a freshman, he tutored many math and science students, including seniors. He soon made a business out of this. At the age of 19, when Mr. Ahad graduated college, he already owned and operated his own business – The Math and Science Tutoring Institute. When Mr. Ahad started this business at the age of 19, he had 22 students. By 25 years of age, he already had 2500 students. The feedback Mr. Ahad received from the kids he tutored was all positive.

In 1987 the Burmese government changed for the worst and Mr. Ahad knew that he had to get out of the country and come to America. Ironically Mr. Ahad’s birthday is the fourth of July. Coming to America, he immediately felt a great sense of pride in this here American experiment.

When Mr. Ahad came to America he first lived in the great state of Illinois, where he earned his Masters Degree in Physics and at the same ran the undergraduate tutoring center. With great teaching ambitions, Ahad came to Los Angeles and applied for various physics teaching positions. Ahad was immediately hired at Einstein Academy (the predecessor to Milken). After Einstein Academy closed down during the construction of Milken, Ahad moved to Claremont and took a job at the Webb School. In two years teaching at the school, he had already won the best teacher award. In 1991, when Milken first started, Ahad taught the first physics classes as the first physics teacher. The current physics classroom was designed by Mr. Ahad. This was the same year that Ahad started the summer school, which he runs to this day. Perhaps the most impressive statistic of Ahad’s illustrious career is the fact that he has only missed two days in 19 years of teaching. As Mr. Ahad puts it, “teaching is satisfying.”

“When you teach people and they understand it, that is the satisfaction. It is wordless – it is like opening them up. That is why I like teaching so much,” Ahad said.

Besides teaching at Milken, Mr. Ahad also runs a tutoring center, which he established in 1999. His students come from all over Los Angeles, and Ahad uses his knowledge of what is being taught at other schools to help shape his curriculum. Through his tutoring center Mr. Ahad has published books using and highlighting his proven steps for solving Physics problems. Mr. Ahad has been a Milken treasure, and his timely humor and teaching methods truly make him unique.

Classic Ahad quotes:

“Time is a bridge” – time is the same for both x and y when dealing with motion

“Flip and switch fish and chips” –

“Not Kelvin, Nicole” – for certain temperature problems the unit needed is Celsius not Kelvin.

“What, what, what….” – signature phrase

“If your velocity goes down you go to library” – the physics room is under the library, so if you have negative velocity you go to the library.

“Truck or sedan” – when Mr. Ahad is telling people which formula to use.