ALPENA - Meaghan Black was hired recently as a math coach for Alpena Public Schools and is working in classrooms with teachers and students in to facilitate best math practices.
"APS recognized there is a math concern, and pulled a group of teachers and administrators together to brainstorm how to address the issue. There was a need for parent engagement and a need for my position, a district math coach," Black said.
Black said APS is taking a proactive approach to raise math scores while addressing the need for additional help within school classrooms.
"This is my prep time to work with the six schools to put a support mechanism in place. My goals are to raise math scores, but I'm also looking for a culture shift for teachers, parents and students," she said.
Black is working with all the elementary schools in the district, and said each school has a dedicated day during the week for classroom visits. She also said her afternoons are free to provide any classes with extra help.
"Right now I think teachers are feeling overwhelmed with math and the process of teaching it. We want to get to a point where they are excited to teach it and are confident," she said. "The issue isn't teachers. We have excellent teachers, they just need the tools and support to be masters in math. I'm a support for them. They are wonderful at what they do, but we also recognize that they need help."
The Alpena-Montmorency-Alcona Educational Service District also is moving forward to address math issues, and will be hiring a math consultant for three of the area schools to raise district math scores on MEAP and MME tests.
"We are really excited about the prospective of the ESD and its search for a math consultant, and they are supporting the initiatives that we as a school district are taking on," Black said.
According to Superintendent Brian Wilmot, Alpena, Hillman and Alcona schools will have assistance from the consultant, who will provide leadership and coordination while focusing on curricular alignment, professional development, programs for students, administrators and teachers.
"It's fair that they hired there own math coach. APS takes math performance very seriously, I applaud their commitment and efforts. The math consultant that we hire will assist with the big picture of math curriculum over all districts," Wilmot said.
While APS hired its own math coach, Wilmot said it will not impact the amount of time the ESD math consultant will spend in Alpena.
"If anything APS will probably have more time with the consultant because they have so many more schools within the district and they are also paying for the consultant. This is a collaborative effort and all schools will be covered in Hillman, Alcona and Alpena," Wilmot said.
Although Wilmot is hoping to fill the position as soon as possible, he predicts someone will be hired by the end of the school year and will start preparing the collaborative math program throughout the summer.
However, Black is already busy working in APS and is preparing for changes for next year.
"This is part of a shift in education. I am excited and proud to be a part of APS and to be making a difference for the children in this community," Black said.
Emily Siegmon can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5687.