The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Chancellor High math teacher scores national honor
BY PAMELA GOULD
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Chancellor High School teacher Kimberly Riddle heads to Washington this week to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
But to fit the honor into her busy summer schedule, the Spotsylvania County math teacher had to cut short her participation in a program at the University of Virginia where she’s helping craft the curriculum for a new math course to be implemented statewide.
And a few weeks after she returns from Washington, Riddle travels to Hampton Roads for a NASA internship for math and science teachers.
That is classic Riddle, said Pamela Bailey, a Spotsylvania math instruction coordinator.
She said Riddle has been on fire to learn and implement new instructional techniques since attending a training course in Duck, N.C., four years ago.
“She’s like a sponge,” eager to bring new ideas into her classroom and share them with other teachers, Bailey said.
It’s that attitude that led Bailey to nominate Riddle for the presidential award.
Winning it has been a long process that started in early 2011.
Riddle provided a 13-page response to questions on the traits of an outstanding teacher, and was videotaped working with students in the classroom.
Her materials were reviewed at the state level, where she became Virginia’s candidate for the award. Then they went before a panel of mathematicians, scientists and educators at the national level.
This month she learned she was one of 46 math teachers and 51 science teachers chosen from across the nation and U.S. territories.
All winners will spend Wednesday through Friday in Washington, where they will talk with members of the Obama administration and Congress about education, and attend professional development sessions with members of the National Science Foundation.
They will be honored at a dinner on Thursday and meet the president at the White House if his schedule allows.
Each winner also will receive $10,000. Riddle said most of that probably will go toward room and board for her daughter, Brittany, who starts at the University of Virginia this fall.
Riddle, 41, earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Mary Washington. She’s the daughter of retired Spotsylvania elementary teacher Patricia Riddle.
The younger Riddle has taught a host of math classes in her decade of teaching, including Algebra I, Geometry, Pre-calculus, Discrete Mathematics, and an Algebra, Functions and Data Analysis class.
She said she’s on a quest to implement the best techniques available.
“My whole philosophy, as I’ve continued teaching, is that I want to be the best teacher that I can, so I’m going to be out there looking for new and innovative ways to help children learn,” she said.
Chancellor Principal Jackie Bass–Fortune said it has been a joy to watch Riddle grow as a professional.
“She’s awesome,” Bass–Fortune said.
What sets her apart, Bailey and Bass–Fortune said, is her ability to help students see the real-world impact of the math she teaches.
“It’s just amazing what she’s done with the students,” Bailey said.
Riddle employs the “function approach” to teaching, which incorporates five elements of instruction.
That approach, which is used in all of Spotsylvania’s high schools and moves to middle schools next year, requires teachers to help students learn by incorporating graphing, tables, verbal explanation and symbolic representation of the math lesson, as well as an application to a real-world scenario.
“I feel like she has almost perfected it,” Bailey said. “She has been a wonderful example to her peers, how to combine all of the math concepts.”
Riddle said she was overwhelmed to receive the national award, but Bailey said she deserves it.
“She’s just an inspiration,” Bailey said. “We all need to be as open-minded to new things.”
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972