Those words have haunted countless students through the years, but not the fifth graders at Nicholasville’s Brookside Elementary.
That’s where Brittney Sanderson has turned math class into a handson, interactive course filled with real-world applications that have ignited her students’ imaginations.
Sanderson’s classroom is nothing like the math class of old when students filled out worksheets and studied numbers as abstract entities. Instead, her closets are filled with math manipulatives, models and games, including a decimal card game where kids play war.
After a brief instruction period, Sanderson breaks the students into groups for hands-on activities and partner work. This not only gives the classroom a workshop feel, it allows Sanderson to connect individually with each student.
“I’m an energetic teacher with high expectations,” Sanderson said. “I expect my students to give every ounce of their effort once they walk through the door. They know that if they try, I will work with them and do everything it takes to make sure they learn the concepts.”
Teachers and administrators marvel at the buy-in Sanderson gets from her students.
“She is super good at getting kids engaged with the material,” Principal JonAnn Horn said. “She does a great job of incorporating technology
into the classroom and has an amazing passion for teaching.”
Which Sanderson only discovered by accident. As a pre-law major in college, she helped an education major with a social studies presentation at an elementary school. That experience changed her life.
“Teaching felt natural for me and it seemed like this is what I should have been doing all along,” she said. “When my friends learn that I was pre-law, they just laugh. Teaching is my calling”
So is math. In high school, Sanderson took all the advanced math classes and since she started at Brookside six years ago, she has become a member of the Math
Response to Intervention team of educators in Central Kentucky.
“I tell my students, ‘I’m going to make you love math.’ And they do,” Sanderson said. “If you ask the fifth graders at Brookside, they’ll tell you math is their favorite subject.”