Adding up

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 31, 2001

Math Initiative' a reality at W.O.P.

A wise man once said that grass won't grow on a busy streetit doesn't grow beneath the feet of Betty Whittle, a kindergarten teacher at W.O. Parmer Elementary School.

"I've been teaching for 27 years, always in the kindergarten," said Whittle. "I taught for 13 years in McKenzie, and also one year in Bibb County."

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Whittle said that when she first started in Greenville, she taught at Baptist Hill Kindergarten, before it was re-located to W.O. Parmer.

The Greenville native, who holds a master's degree in early childhood, has become an institution in Butler County's formative education level, and has been involved in one of the state's greatest developments in education.

At what she considers the ground-floor' level, Whittle is involved in the Math Initiative' program.

"I am just thrilled that someone thought I could do this," she said. "The math initiative is a program designed to pool all math and science research to improve materials available for students."

Whittle said that the program is to insure uniformity. "This is designed to make sure that all students state-wide are on the same level," she said.

"The program focuses on critical thinking skills, number sense, using techniques such as pairing down to teach skills in depthwe want to make sure that all students have everything available to them," Whittle said.

Whittle said that she has been particularly involved in one area more than others.

"We have been developing a math kit, that is one filled with standardized materials to be used in class," she said.

Whittle said that a position will be created for the new program.

"There will be a Specialist Coordinator appointed for the school," she said. "That person's class-load will be lightened, so that he or she can be available at all times, to assist other teachers with the program."

Whittle said that the program will be conducted through the State Department of Education.

"The programs will require application for approval, just like with the reading initiative programs," she said. "The technology is constantly changing, and teachers are sometimes intimidated by moves and changes.

"This (the program) will be so much better, especially for us veteran teacherswe only get exposed to changes in technologies through workshops. This will increase our abilities to upgrade teaching skills to increase student learning."

Whittle said that the program is still in it's developmental stage.

"We will be submitting lessons and modules to the State until Aprilonce they are evaluated, the modules will be sent out to the schools."

Whittle said the main objective is uniformity.

"This program will make education consistent from kindergarten through the twelfth gradeto ensure that our students are better prepared for the business world.

"Hopefully this will also bring in more resources from the business world, which has for a long time realized the need for more math and science skills prior to graduation."

Whittle said the program could get started soon.

"I am hopeful that by the end of the school year, we will know which schools have been selected as pilot-program sites," she said.