ALPENA - The new Alpena-Montmorency-Alcona Educational Service District math consultant, Mary Christensen-Cooper, has been hard at work for the last month assessing schools and conducting surveys to get a better understanding of the math needs in the area. Christensen-Cooper is helping the teachers identify needs of students in the math portion of their curriculum.
"I've been doing surveys and classroom observations," Christensen-Cooper said. "I just finished my first set of observations in Alcona."
She has been busy talking to principals and teachers to find out where the districta stand as far as math is concerned. Every school is at a different level and has different needs, she said.
"I'm using these first couple months to get my feet wet," she said. "I'm here to serve and support, that's my job description."
Christensen-Cooper will support the teachers by working with them on areas that need improvement based on her assessments. She is working on a plan for the next few years to bring the math scores back up to standards.
"I have an opinion of where I want to go," she said. "I want to create a cycle of support as a systematic way to help the teachers."
She's starting by looking at the basics: books.
"Curricular materials are different in each of the schools. Alpena just purchased new math books for the elementary, but Hillman has a different set of books," she said. "Everyone has been willing to give me any information to help make my plan for the schools."
A graduate of Michigan State University and Regis University in Denver, Colo., Christensen-Cooper has over seven years teaching experience in math and is ready to "hit the ground running" in the coming school year.
AMA ESD Superintendent Brian Wilmot said the district is excited to have her as the new math consultant.
"She's going to be a great asset to all of the districts," Wilmot said. "She's a dynamic person and is great for this role.
"She knows math and can work with adults to get them involved as part of the movement. Her whole charge is mathematics."
The superintendents from the districts were looking for "the right person," and didn't want just any consultant to work in the district, Wilmot said.
"Waiting definitely payed off for us," he said. "Mary just fits really well in the core area of people, like our English consultants, leading this local initiative. She was worth waiting for."
Christensen-Cooper said she was happy to have the opportunity to work as the districts math consultants.
"I'm in the assessment phrase, and will look at two areas; strengths, and needs," she said. "Its great to work with the teachers here. They are a passionate group of people who are dedicated to their students."
Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.