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Hanks makes learning fun

May 07, 2001

Hanks makes learning fun



Editor's Note: The Herald-Mail has been featuring one middle-school teacher a month since October. This is the last of the eight-part series highlighting excellent educators in Washington County.

By TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

David HanksPhoto: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

David Hanks juggles two classroom strategies daily. While his overall lesson plans are structured, the activities within them vary several times a period.

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The 29-year-old math and social studies teacher at Western Heights Middle School thinks the combination helps keep the interest of his sixth-grade students.

"You have to make it fun," Hanks said. "I try to be structured, but you can't teach the same way every day. You have to mix it up."

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During math class, students can move from performing problems on the chalkboard to going over lessons in the textbook to working on math questions in teams.

Every Friday, students are quizzed on 25 multiplication problems in a limited amount of time. At the beginning of the year, the students had three minutes to complete the problems. By the end of the year, the time limit dropped to one minute.

Hanks said his students' quiz scores have improved since the start of the school year. More than half of the class received a score of 90 or above last Friday.

"They're getting very good," he said.

Robert Brown, Western Heights Middle School's principal, said Hanks' classroom philosophy is not only effective but it stands out as well. It's one of the reasons why he picked Hanks to be teacher of the month.

"He's always doing something different with the kids," Brown said. "His classes are structured, but it's not a concrete structure. It's flexible. Students like his class."

Brown said Hanks also teaches to different learning styles, including using auditory, kinetic and visual techniques to get his message across.

"He will present that same information in a different way," Brown said. "Depending on how you like to learn, he's going to get that information to you."

In the classroom, Hanks' students are attentive and most participate even when they're not called on.

"The kids and I get along really well," he said.

He said his biggest reward from teaching is to witness students grow in maturity and knowledge.

"I've seen some kids in here grow and become responsible," Hanks said.

Hanks was born in Huntingdon, Pa., and graduated from Penn State University with a bachelor's degree in elementary education. He taught math, language and social studies in North Carolina for three years before moving to Washington County two years ago.

Hanks said he hopes to teach another 10 years and then move into school administration.

"He's a very effective teacher, and he's very enthusiastic," Brown said. "He truly enjoys working with the kids and it shows."

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