Academy of MATH® Star Teacher Nomination
You really should see her in action!
Ms. Glenda Blair teaches at Cherokee Central High School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs School in Cherokee, North Carolina. Ms. Blair is a natural Academy of MATH teacher. If you’ve ever wondered what qualities allow a teacher to shepherd students successfully through the Academy of MATH, your answer can be had in a day by observing in her classroom. With the support of her Principal, Debora Foerst, Ms. Blair’s goal was high: to bring the math skills of Cherokee Central 9th graders, who scored from 1st to 8th grade on their pre-tests, to grade level. Can one teacher reach such a lofty goal using one period per day? Yes, she can, if that teacher is Glenda Blair!
To start, Ms. Blair organized documents for tracking the progress of each student. Students were put in charge of their own progress sheets. Their tracking sheets would show them the exact numbers of skills mastered and the numbers needed to finish the program. With the ultimate goal mapped, each student then set daily and weekly goals and marked them on the tracking sheet.
For the first three weeks of the semester, Ms. Blair ran an Academy of MATH Boot Camp for all 9th graders. Under her tutelage, students mastered as many skills as possible during their math classes. At the end of Boot Camp, the Academy of MATH was continued during the school’s flex period. Ninth grade Academy of MATH students were divided among Ms. Blair and six other teachers. Ms. Blair then devised a tracking system for each class and incentives for those students who reached their goals. She kept the tracking systems current and distributed rewards to students in each of the Academy of MATH classes.
By year’s end, Cherokee Central’s 9th graders made 1.5 years’ gain in math. Three of Ms. Blair’s class of 12 Academy of MATH students graduated, and her class completed an average of 62% of the program.
How does Ms. Blair help her students overcome their deficiences in math? Were you to sit in her class, you would see her outline expectations for class behavior. Ms. Blair’s students always know for sure that she is glad they’re in her class, and they are expected to master at least one Academy of MATH skill before leaving.
You would see Ms. Blair in constant motion. She is in the corner checking on a laptop that won’t boot and then on the other side of the room to see why her student can’t get a perfect puzzle in division word problems. She’s then on to another student who needs help understanding part of the tutorial in measurement. Ms. Blair’s sense of humor keeps the room light, so mistakes seem fixable. Students who struggle know that help is on the way. Ms. Blair’s endurance allows her to go all day long, working with student after student after student. Her easy, friendly personality allows students to let down their guards and ask for assistance.
And for students who don’t ask for help? Ms. Blair will cajole, repeat, explain, urge, repeat again, suggest, encourage, check, coax, describe—and then do it all again during the next period.
On those days when one set of hands is not enough, Sebastian Brun, Cherokee Central Middle and High Math Lead Teacher, lends advice and help. When he’s not in the classroom, he is organizing, planning, obtaining rewards, and devising motivations to aid student progress.
You should see Ms. Blair in action!
You may feel exhaused watching as she works her magic. But you would never again take an Academy of MATH teacher for granted!