By Douglas Moser
---- — METHUEN — What do you get when you add together the numbers 15, 16/18 and 13?
Meredith Moore, an Advanced Placement calculus teacher, knows.
She was one of 15 teachers recognized with a Partners in Excellence award from Mass Insight Education, a Boston nonprofit focused on education, and who will receive the awards tomorrow night at the Museum of Science in Boston.
“It’s being recognized for the time and work I’ve put in with AP students, and recognition for them and the success they’ve had,” Moore said.
Key to her being chosen was that 16 out of 18 students in one of her AP class last school year passed the AP exam, earning a score of at least 3 out of a possible 5. “That’s just outstanding,” said Joseph Harb, the AP course coordinator at Methuen High. “She’s a teacher who has high expectations, but she helps them through it every single day.”
Moore, a teacher at Methuen for 13 years, has been teaching calculus, an advanced math system that uses algebra and geometry to predict change, for 12 of those years, and AP calculus for more than four.
Math long has been a strong subject for her, saying her friends in college would go to her with questions before their professors. “I’ve always loved calculus,” she said. “It’s interesting and a challenge. There are different ways to show something, so it’s never boring.”
She said she uses the idea that, somewhat counter-intuitively, advanced math is not rigid and allows for creativity to sell students on a subject or level that can sound intimidating. Students can experiment to find an answer. “I think it helps them not to be afraid to just try something if they’re unsure. Even if the method is one I wouldn’t use, it still might be correct,” she said.
Moore’s supervisors said she has been a key part of expanding the AP program over the last few years, and puts in extra effort after school and during the summers to support her students.
”About this time every year we go through course enrollment with students, and she encourages them all to take calculus,” Harb said. “It’s definitely a difficult course, but she gives them tremendous support and encouragement to select the course.”
Julie Ward, the high school math department coordinator, said her success with students, beyond recruitment, lies in breaking down a complex subject like calculus into its smaller parts, and then building it back into the whole.
“She can capture the big ideas,” Ward said. “The reason students experience great success is she’s able to break it apart and put it back together.”
The award is part of Mass Insight Education’s Mass Math + Science Initiative, which seeks to improve math and science performance around the state and to encourage enrollment in AP courses, which follow a national curriculum and are recognized by most colleges and universities. Passing grades in an AP course and exam can translate to college credit.
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