Math Learning Centers Offer Walk-In Extra Help for High School East, West Students

Math lab teachers pose by chalk board. thumbnail199313
Carrie Kropp (left) and Abigayle Gersbeck (right) help lead the math learning center at High School East.

Math extra help is available on a walk-in basis every period of the day at both High School East and High School West.

Each high school has a math learning center — East in room 313, West in room G307.

“Students can literally walk in and say, ‘I didn’t know how to do my homework last night. Can you help me?’” said Angelica Babino, the district’s math director.

Typically, students drop in during their study hall or lunch period.

Many who take advantage of the learning centers’ availability end up appreciating the experience and decide to visit daily or every other day — and often the day before a test.

There are two math TAs at High School West, Mark Cimino and Richard Bassin. And one math TA, Carrie Kropp, and two tutors, Liz Manning-Hart and Abigayle Gersbeck, at High School East.

All of the staff at the learning centers are math certified, so the designations mostly relate to how many hours per week each works.

In addition to the voluntary attendees, some students are assigned to a learning center because they have been identified as needing academic support. That assignment sometimes stems from a parent or guardian contacting the student’s guidance counselor to request the extra help.

The middle schools also have extra math instruction for students who are assigned. And a math TA was hired at the middle-school level to combat COVID learning loss. That TA regularly is in classrooms for all math subjects.

“Sometimes, between the counselor and the parent, they know that the student is not going to take that step and walk in there,” Babino said. “We can actually place it on their schedule. Maybe they have lunch seventh period. On their schedule, they also have ‘AIS’ (Academic Intervention Services) seventh period on ‘B’ days, so they’re required to go up there.”

This academic year, Babino’s team has ramped up its direct involvement in Algebra I and Algebra II classes to identify students who could benefit from additional learning support.

Because there has not been a state assessment test in two years as a result of COVID-19, students may not as frequently be identified through traditional means as needing support from the learning centers.

“The Algebra I students, being that they’re coming from middle school, they may or may not be identified. So they may not be scheduled for the extended algebra course that offers them that extra support,” Babino said. “
As a result, the AIS providers are pushing into the regular, single-period algebra class that doesn't have that extra support built in.

“And Algebra II is the third math course. So these students in Algebra II didn’t take the algebra regents in ninth grade because it was canceled. And they didn’t take the geometry regents last year because it was canceled. So now, here they are, their third year of math — they have their Regents credits under their belt, but they have never taken one. And now they’re going to have to take the hardest Regents exam. Because of that, we have that additional support there in the classrooms.”