Students learning math at R-MA are constantly engaged and challenged through innovative teaching. The school’s math program is designed to be student-oriented—focused on guiding students through a traditional exploration of core mathematical subjects while introducing modern and relevant teaching to prepare them for a future as effective leaders.
As a small school, R-MA can be flexible and broad-ranging, helping students gain valuable skills by providing inspiration and support through its programs. Similarly, students learning math are able to build cross-disciplinary skills that can be applied and relied on in any of their future endeavors.
This post will delve into the unique aspects of R-MA’s math program, focusing on how students benefit and grow from their experience.
Learning Critical Thinking through Mathematical Innovation and Creativity
The Dean of Instructional Leadership and Innovation, Tracey Ramey, describes R-MA’s math program as “rigorous, nimble, and comprehensive.” At R-MA, math isn’t about teaching specific concepts, but about highlighting a way of thinking—one that is based on critical analysis and reasoning.
Eric Barr and Cynthia Michael are part of the school’s math faculty, with over 50 years of experience teaching at R-MA combined. To them, R-MA’s math program is special, “geared towards individual students.” In this way, each student receives a personalized education tailored to their needs and goals. Students can follow the traditional curriculum and strengthen their knowledge in the mathematical subjects of Algebra, Geometry, and Calculus as well as pursue interesting subjects at a more advanced level—taking AP or dual-enrolment courses.
Math teachers at R-MA are constantly revising and updating the curriculum to address students’ goals and provide a relevant and modern education. The Dean adds that, through these revisions, R-MA is able to “add in innovative teaching pedagogy, new content and skills, and take out content or pedagogies that no longer serve our students.” These changes bolster the program, “leading to more collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication.”
Gaining Transferable Skills for a Successful Future after College Preparatory School
All students at R-MA are positioned for success through rigorous learning opportunities that include a strong supportive system. In the context of this program, the Dean emphasizes how R-MA works to “support, scaffold, and guide students through their own journey of learning math.” By making use of the available technologies, Barr and Michael argue that teachers at our coed private school can adapt their approach to cater to the “learning style of today’s students.”
Through this math program, students learn to develop valuable transferable skills that can be applied to all areas of life—both in the present and in the future. As the Dean puts it, “The top skills that we strive to develop are problem solving, analytical thinking, and reasoning skills. These are crucial skills for our students to be active participants in the world they live and to work towards leadership in their communities.” She adds, “We are nimble but stable in our ultimate goal of making sure our students have experiences with rigorous math that will lead them to success in college and beyond.”
Exploring Math through Fun and Engaging Student-Based Approaches
According to Barr and Michael, “There is no substitute for a teacher that loves their subject.” Curiosity and excitement can be contagious, and teachers at our college preparatory school work hard to inspire students to discover, participate, and keep learning. “Teachers are working to intentionally add in more student-centered pedagogies like project based and inquiry based learning,” says the Dean. It’s all about creating the best learning experience for students, taking the time “to connect math to their lives and the world they live in.”
Here, students can also engage in a variety of fun extracurricular activities. This includes Mu Alpha Theta (Math Honors Society), J-term classes (like “Mathmagic Land – The History of Mathematics”), and even math contests—including the Virginia Math League, AMC-12, Mathworks Modeling Contest, and Math Counts for middle school students. By staying active and curious, learning through fun and engaging activities, students at R-MA can embark on an exciting educational journey.
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