Friday, February 21, 2014

Getting 'A Kick Out of Fractions', And An Award From The Mayor

Imagine my surprise when I received an email one day recently from the Mayor’s Office of Volunteerism informing me that I was this year’s recipient of the Mayor’s Community Service Award in the category of Education. I received my award, a crystal obelisk of the Washington, Monument, at a ceremony held in the beautiful Mayor’s Ceremonial Room in the Wilson Building.  Mayor Gray spoke about the importance of volunteerism and how it brings the city together. I am still amazed and thrilled that I could have been chosen for such an honor.
 For the last few years I have been a volunteer tutor and math teacher in Academy of Hope’s daytime program.  I’ve taught the basic course in whole numbers, and the course in decimals, but my real favorite is fractions, which I teach now. I’m not sure why I get such a kick out of fractions, but it may be largely because so many of my students approach it with apprehension and that makes it very satisfying to help them overcome this attitude. For many, understanding fractions was something they were overwhelmed by in school, and their failure to master it may have been a turning point in their education.  Conquering fractions gives them the confidence to move on toward high school level math and eventually to the GED.

Certainly, the greatest satisfaction one finds in teaching is the memory of those unexpected moments when students suddenly “get it” and realize that can understand math.  To have the AoH faculty write up a description of my efforts, to have those words chosen for recognition, and to have them read out in a public ceremony, was a pretty awesome event that I will never forget.  It was a highlight for me and I will always be enormously grateful.
- Dilys Lande, longtime volunteer 

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