Changes affect math department

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Celine Hakimianpour, staff writer

The Math Dept. has shuffled teachers’ class assignments during the second semester due to Beverly’s adoption of Loyola Marymount University’s (LMU) training program for math teachers. LMU created the program to strengthen Beverly’s Math Dept., to give students a chance to teach their peers and to have teachers establish clear learning targets and goals.

Last spring, representatives from LMU visited Beverly’s campus, upon the administration’s request, to provide their view on how the math curriculum should be taught.

“LMU’s program is helping us become better teachers. It offers us new ways of organizing the curriculum and teaching the material in a more student-based way,” Math Dept. Chair Jane Wortman said. “The program is more student-oriented in which the students become self evaluators.”

The program caught the interest of two current math teachers: FST teacher Edna Broukhim and FST and Math Analysis Computational Honors teacher Michel Paul.

Broukhim and Paul attended classes at LMU last semester in order to sharpen their teaching strategies and learn how to enforce them in the classroom. They were taught strategies about fostering class participation and forming learning targets, a system in which students set goals for what they wish to learn and achieve.

As Broukhim and Paul completed their classes at LMU, math teachers Joshua Glass and Elaina Reilly also began to take classes at the university. Because Glass and Reilly no longer teach their second semester fifth and sixth period classes in order to prepare for their LMU courses, Broukhim and Paul had to adapt to scheduling changes in the Math Dept.

“I don’t think any change in the middle of the year is good for students’ learning. However, because of the change in the program, the school had no choice but to make changes. The school did its best to make sure that the least number of students was affected,” a math teacher who wished to remain anonymous said. “I think it is a great idea to have new programs. But, the changes have created a lot of chaos for the students. Getting used to a new teacher is difficult in the middle of the school year.”

Glass feels the program will benefit the math department.

“While I enjoy teaching and will miss working with my students, I am excited for the opportunity to work with the great staff at LMU to better help prepare our students in the future,” Glass said.

Math teacher Debi Dodds, who previously taught Math Analysis Honors, is now teaching at Moreno High School in order to give students there a more solid math program. Although Dodds does not approve of the changes being made, she enjoys helping the students at Moreno.

“I’m always willing to adapt to fulfill the math needs of our student body,” Dodds said. “The kids are great and I’m enjoying helping them.”

Wayne Tsorng, a new teacher who formerly taught at Granada Hills Charter High School, filled Dodds’ previous position and is now teaching three Math Analysis classes.

“I’ve been very impressed so far on all aspects and I believe I’ll have one of my best teaching experiences here this semester at Beverly Hills High School,” Tsorng said. “Ms. Wortman has been giving me lots of advice and other staff members from the math department have also been very supportive.”

The administration tried to ensure that the minimal amount of changes were made to students’ schedules.

“It’s always best to change schedules when things are going to be the least impacted. A semester break is a natural break, so that’s why we changed schedules then,” Assistant Principal Kelly Tabis said. “We needed to accommodate the teachers joining the LMU program, so changes had to be made for that reason. Schedule changes are never easy. However, we are always in favor or doing what’s best for students and staff.”

Although Wortman believes that the program benefits Beverly’s math department, some students have difficulty adjusting to their teacher changes.

“I’m the type of student who doesn’t like change. I was [used] to learning one way for so long that it felt weird for me to be in a different environment,” junior FST student Nicole Mehdian said. “I developed such a strong relationship with my first semester teacher, and to have that taken away from me really upset me.”

On the other hand, some students liked the schedule changes and have gained insights from their new math teachers.

“I feel that sometimes change is needed so that something better could come along from it,” senior Math Analysis student Ben Hakakian said. “It gives us a chance to start fresh and it gives us, as students, a different perspective and different ways of learning math.”

Despite short term difficulties faculty and students may face in adjusting to changes within the math department, the school hopes to strengthen educational experiences in the long term.

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