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Math skills add up to success for ECMS, RPES students

Michelle McKey’s first-block fourth-grade class, from left, front, Elizabeth Sutton, Cordaryl Lewis, Alexis Bright, Tytravion Staples, Cleo Bolar, Jontavious Richardson, Zack Edwards, Kylie Green and Jaharra Jackson; back, Kayleigh Young, Jeffrey McCants, Calem McMillan, Lazavion McKenzie, Semaj Brand, Aajenay Tillman, Amarion Lemon, Jacob Boutwell, Brayden McBride and Keon Hill.

Students at two local schools have been — literally and figuratively — thinking through their math assignments this year, and their hard work has generated some impressive results.

Based on their November success with Imagine Math’s Think Through Math curriculum, the local students claimed six of the 10 top spots in the statewide Alabama Do Math! Pay It Forward contest.

Escambia County Middle School’s fourth-graders were the state’s overall winner and earned three individual top-10 showings, while Rachel Patterson Elementary School’s third-grade students also took three of the top 10 individual classroom positions.

Under the relatively new method of supplement math study, each student is given a benchmark test at the beginning of the school year to determine the level of the student’s math skills. The test provides teachers with a better understanding of each child’s needs for improvement during the upcoming year, and individual plans are devised for each one.

“This program is excellent, it will not allow a student to go on to another lesson until he or she has mastered the skill that was previously taught,” said Michelle McKey, whose first-block class had the sixth-best showing in the state. “Once they have mastered it, then it will advance them on to more advanced levels but, once again, only on their level. This is an excellent tool for a teacher to use to help with monitoring the growth of his or her students in math. At any time, you as the teacher have access to view the students’ progress in this program and see where he or she is struggling.”

McKey said the students used all the resources available to them to improve their respective mathematics skill levels. The class members averaged 5+ passed math lessons during November.

“My students work very hard to achieve their goal in Think Through Math, which is to pass at least two lessons a week,” the teacher said. “They get to spend an hour a week in the computer lab on Think Through Math, and also extra time in the classroom. Students also have access to login to this excellent program from home as well.”

Classes taught by ECMS’s Jillian Jewell (eighth grade) and Emily Anusiewicz (ninth grade) also earned top-10 status and earned the school a $100 Visa gift card and each of the three classes a $50 Pizza Hut gift card.

According to an email from Imagine Math, the middle school, as the state’s top school, will host the Alabama Food Bank Association at a school-wide awards ceremony “in the coming weeks” to mark their “hard work and commitment to math excellence.” The ceremony will include a check presentation from Imagine Math to representatives of the charity.

Rachel Patterson students in Anna Tingle’s two math classes finished third and 10th in the state, while Kathy Shehan’s first-block class was fifth. Each class will reportedly also receive a $50 Pizza Hut gift card and will be recognized as an Imagine Math Classroom of the Month.

“I’m very proud of our teachers and students,” said RPES Principal John Brantley. “Three out of our six third-grade classrooms’ students averaged 5+ passed lessons and are now named the Imagine Match Classroom of the Month. Both classes that Mrs. Tingle teaches and one that Mrs. Shehan teaches were among the top 10 classes in the state. Everyone here is excited about how well we did.”

Two schools from Birmingham and one each from Pelham and Mobile were the only schools from outside Escambia County to earn a spot in the top 10.