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Teacher says with math, seeing is understanding

September 28, 2009|By JANET HEIM

HALFWAY -- For almost 38 years, Greg Eversole has worked hard to build up the confidence of his Washington County students.

"I've been blessed every one of those years with great experiences and great rapport with kids and teachers," said Eversole, who turns 60 on Sept. 30.

As a math teacher, he also wanted to help students see that math wasn't as difficult as they've been led to believe.

"I'm a very visual teacher. They have to be able to see it to understand it," said Eversole, of Halfway.

Along the way, the number of students demonstrating proficiency in math on Maryland's assessment tests has climbed at E. Russell Hicks Middle School, where he is a math student-achievement specialist.

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Eversole admitted he got into teaching so he could be a high school baseball coach. His love for the New York Yankees came from his father, who died in 1989, but not before seeing his son coach his first baseball game at South Hagerstown High School.

In addition to coaching baseball at South High, St. Maria Goretti and North Hagerstown High School, Eversole has coached junior varsity basketball and golf.

After attending what was then Hagerstown Junior College, Eversole headed to Frostburg State University for two years. He began teaching in January 1971 at Funkstown Elementary. When a sixth-grade math position opened up at E. Russell Hicks, Eversole stepped up and has taught that, as well as some reading and some seventh-grade classes.

Six years ago, Eversole took the math student-achievement specialist position at Hicks, a post that was the result of the federal No Child Left Behind mandate.

"It was a challenge because when the job was created, they talked about the magical number of 100 percent by 2014. I was up for the challenge," Eversole said.

Eversole said that means that all students at his school need to pass the Maryland State Assessment in math at a level of proficient or above.

Hicks now has five merit math classes for sixth-graders instead of two. A third seventh-grade merit math class has been added, as have two algebra classes for seventh-graders. The number of algebra classes for eighth-graders has doubled to four and two geometry classes were introduced.

Eversole credits his staff for increasing the rigor of the math curriculum to better prepare students for high school, college and the working world.

"The more kids that get to algebra in middle school, the better off they are in high school for Advanced Placement classes and entrance into college," Eversole said. "We have kids that can do it and a tremendous math staff."

The numbers support the efforts of Eversole and his staff of 12 to 15 teachers and instructional assistants. In 2004, 61.9 percent of Hicks sixth-graders were proficient or above in MSA math; in 2008-09, that number was 90.2 percent. Five years ago, 66 percent of seventh-graders scored in the desired range; in the 2008-09 school year, 87.2 percent did. A total of 45.7 percent of eighth-graders were proficient or above in 2004; that number bumped up to 69.9 percent in 2008-09.

"I love what I do. That's the bottom line," Eversole said.

Eversole and his wife of 38 years, Katrina, have two daughters, three grandchildren and one on the way.

A member of Ringgold Church of Christ in Smithsburg, Eversole gives credit to his faith, as well.

"God has blessed me with so many things in my life. I can't thank his influence enough," he said.

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