Latin Knows How to Add: the US Math Center


Annie Hallinan

Math problems on the whiteboard

In room 434 of the Upper School’s quiet Learning Commons (LC) lies a new addition to the space: the Math Center, a resource for students who are seeking drop-by math help. Open from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every school day, the Math Center is staffed by Upper School Math teachers Zachary McArthur and Nichol Hooker, in addition to four senior Teaching Assistants (TAs), Ainsley Heaton, Trent Glimp, Katie Cahill, and Eve Drumm.

During each block that falls during these three hours, at least one TA and, most of the time, one math teacher are in the room helping students. So far this year, the new space has been extremely successful in providing students with one-on-one instruction.

The current Math Center space formerly belonged to US English teacher James Joyce and served as the Writing Center, complete with typewriters and a letterpress machine. This year, Mr. Joyce moved his space two doors down along the stretch of quiet rooms in the LC. He and his writing tools now reside in room 436.

“In terms of space, we’re really happy that Mr. Joyce offered up this room,” Mr. McArthur said.

Most of the time, Mr. McArthur likes to spend his free hours in the Math Center helping students and doing other work rather than in his regular office. “It’s just a really beautiful place to work,” he said. “It’s big; we have 12 seats in here, so we’ve had maybe five to 10 kids at a time.”

Regarding student turnout, Mr. McArthur said, “It’s been amazing the last week. We’ve had over 100 students drop by.” Students from all math classes have visited the Math Center, including students from Multivariable Calculus, a course Mr. McArthur doesn’t teach. He said, “ it has been a big challenge for me to relearn some of that stuff.”

TA Katie Cahill said, “We have been very busy.” She also commented on the different grade-level turnout, saying, “We have mainly freshmen coming in, but we have had a good amount of sophomores and juniors, too.”

TA Trent Glimp also spoke to Katie’s point. “I think it’s [been] great in the past few days, and two weeks, really.”

In particular, Mr. McArthur said, “I do think it’s great to have a TA work with students on problems, because they have gone through these classes; they have great perspective from a student view.”

Similarly, Trent said, “It’s just nice to be able to walk through the problems with somebody who’s not a teacher.”

Discussing the valuable lessons she’s learned while staffing the Math Center, Katie touched on adapting to different students’ needs.“The main lesson I have learned so far would have to be that everyone is going to comprehend and retain information differently,” she said. “I am learning to adapt to each individual student coming in to support them in the best way I can.”

Thus far, the Math Center has been a big hit among US students. Mr. McArthur said, “I would just put a shout-out to the freshmen to come by. I think a lot of freshmen have F [block] free, and F [has] been pretty quiet in here. We do have a great TA that block, Ainsley Heaton, that is hoping to have more time in here with students.” So freshmen: you heard it here! Take a trip to the Math Center, get some gum and candy, and leave smarter than you came.