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Teacher boosts student confidence

December 04, 2000

Teacher boosts student confidence



Editor's Note: The Herald-Mail is featuring one middle-school teacher each month through May. The eight-part series highlights excellent educators on the first Monday of each month. Coming in January: Hancock Middle-Senior High School.

By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


Greg Eversole makes the rounds in his sixth-grade academic skills class at E. Russell Hicks Middle School repeating a question with which his students have become familiar.

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"How can I help you?" says Eversole, urging students to ask him questions about their schoolwork.

The class was started four years ago in an attempt to raise student performance on the Maryland Functional Math Tests, an area with which E. Russell Hicks students had been struggling.

Eversole, 53, said 25 percent of sixth graders at the school passed the exam before the class began. Since then, the number of students passing more than doubled to 58 percent.

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"Our kids are becoming stronger in a regular math classroom because of the concentrated effort," he said.

The students' latest lesson focuses on understanding graphs to solve math problems. For example, one problem asked students to look at a bar graph showing the number of herbs a company sold, and then tell which kind of herb sold the most.

Eversole, who has 30 years of teaching experience, said that while some areas of math can be dull, a key to keeping students interested is to relate their assignments to something they're familiar with and then show how the math is used in everyday life.

"Anybody watch the Redskins get beat?" Eversole asked, referring to the defeat by the Philadelphia Eagles.

A few hands went up.

He went on to explain that the Eagles' defensive coordinator made a graph to explain defensive strategy to the team.

"Using math is tremendous in sports," he said.

Eversole believes proper guidance and support will raise student confidence and help improve performance.

"A lot of kids come to middle school very turned off to mathematics," Eversole said. "They've been convinced that they can't do it. I'm here to convince them that they can do it and provide them the support they need to be successful."

One student's reaction showed that his method is succeeding.

"This is fun," said student Britany Smith.

Another student, Marcus Burnett, raised his hand and quietly told Eversole he needed help on a problem. That's just what Eversole wants to hear.

"I'm here to help you," he told the class. "I realize some of you need somebody to answer questions. What am I going to do, yell at you?"

"Help us," the class shouted back.

Eversole was born and raised in Washington County and graduated from North Hagerstown High School. He attended Hagerstown Community College and Frostburg State University and also earned a master's equivalency. He spent seven years teaching at Funkstown Elementary and 23 years at E. Russell Hicks. He hopes to teach at least another six years.

He's active in after-school activities, including the Gear Up program. Gear Up, which is an acronym for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, targets seventh-graders to start thinking about college.

Eversole is also active in the Homework Club, which lets students do homework in a supervised environment after school and an evening class for parents that allows them to become familiar with what their children are learning in school.

He said the greatest reward from teaching is seeing students learn how to comprehend a particular subject.

"All of a sudden you see their eyes light up and their bells ring," he said. "When you get that, you know you've done the job."

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