A teacher helping students recover from mathphobia has been recognized by the Oregon Council of Teachers of Mathematics for making an outstanding contribution to the mathematical community in Oregon.

Soft SkillsWhen Molly Smith was at Brooklyn Primary School in Baker City last year, she found that she was confronted with the fear of math everywhere in her school, among students and other teachers. Smith is math coach and vice principal.

She believes that anyone can raise their competence in math to a high level. She has a dedication and passion for the subject, which she credits for a slow but definite turnaround in the mindset of both teachers and students about math.

“I think they (saw) I’m excited about it,” said Smith.  She now is a fifth grade teacher at the North Powder Charter School. “I really try to make it engaging.”

A strong math foundation is important, says Smith. Not only is it a skill for solving problems in everyday life, it is a tool for communication that is not just for pencil and paper.

“The way you approach a problem may be totally different than mine, and so if we communicate about that, that’s language as well. It’s not just paper and pencil, but the communication part,” Smith said.

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