KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — Parents may not want to hear anything about “math changing,” but change is what East Kentwood High School teacher Luke Wilcox and former teacher Lindsey Gallas hope will lead to more students finding success in STEM fields.
“We can’t prepare a student for an exact problem but we can create problem solvers and learners,” Gallas said.
She and Wilcox co-founded MathMedic.com, a company that offers programs and lesson plans for any teacher who wants them. With technology changing every day, they focus on conceptual understanding and problem solving.
“Instead of having memorized procedures where, if you change one thing, they can’t do it anymore, we really focus our curriculum on problem-solving and flexible thinking,” Gallas said.
“Our big dream is to transform math education so that students have a different experience in their math class,” Wilcox said.
The program is offered free of charge to any teacher or school that requests it. Math Medic also has a foundation, which distributes grants to schools and teachers and scholarships to students.
Ashleigh Crofton, a senior at East Kentwood High School, plans to attend New York University next year to study business with a focus on statistics. She is in Wilcox’s math class this year.
“I feel like I connected more with statistics than any other math class. I wasn’t really good in those classes, but with this class, I’m like, a light bulb goes off every time,” Crofton said.
She and Hector Paiz-Loeza, another senior, found out this month they each won a $1,000 scholarship from the Math Medic Foundation.
Paiz-Loeza plans to use that money to study astrophysics, an education he plans to start at Grand Rapids Community College and then continue at Michigan State University. He also noticed the difference in the approach Wilcox takes in the classroom.
“We got a deeper understanding in what the different areas in that subject really mean. I remember, like, understanding things as opposed to just memorizing,” Paiz-Loeza said.
Another goal with Math Medic is to inspire students from all backgrounds to explore STEM fields. East Kentwood High School has students representing more than 60 countries.
“We’re the number one most diverse public high school in the state,” Wilcox said. “We want all of our students to be engaged with math, not just a small subsection of them. The big dream would be that we have the diversity that’s in our hallways represented in the math profession itself.”
Crofton has created a following on her social media pages, talking about natural hair and how to care for it. She hopes to turn that into a business one day, to help others learn to love their hair for what it is.
“I feel like it will help other Black little girls see … they can be business analysts and marketing associates and stuff like that,” Crofton said.
For Paiz-Loeza, it’s also important to become the mentor or role model he has relied on.
“When I looked up to someone that happened to come from the same background as me, it made me feel more connected to whatever they were doing. So for me, it would really mean a lot to one day be in that position where I can make someone feel like they’re a part of it, even if they’re not represented,” Paiz-Loeza said.