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Upper School math department wins major award

It’s huge news for our math faculty. In recognition of their overall excellence in teaching and teamwork, our Upper School math teachers earned the Secondary School Mathematics Department Award from the Ontario Association for Mathematics Education. It’s the first time an independent school has ever won the award. It’s the only math department award in Ontario and the only provincial association for math educators, so this is an extremely prestigious award.

“It’s great recognition of our collegiality and commitment to continual improvement,” says department chair Deirdre Timusk. “We’re never satisfied with the status quo.”

Some of the initiatives that impressed the judges included the department’s strong presence at the school — including assembly presentations, a math society and the opportunity for students to write up to 12 contests each year.

Their community presence was also an asset, including students’ participation in the Horizons tutoring program and the UCC Invitational Math Contest. For the fourth year now, local Grade 8 and 9 students are invited to write a contest at UCC, written by our students with lectures delivered by them as well.

The department has also initiated a mathematics contest training program for students both within and outside of the UCC community. Math Select is aimed at students between Grades 5 and 8, and students must write an admissions test to attend the evening classes.

In terms of curriculum, different learners have various options, including both traditional and problem-based learning. As well, four mornings a week  before school, our department organizes and provides an open math clinic.

“Because they have made learning math based on a growth mindset approach, students feel welcomed to arrive with their questions and students are also encourage to work together and help each other,” says Mary Gauthier, executive director of the Wernham West Centre for Learning, which works closely with the department.

A non-traditional approach extends to departmental meetings which are idea-sharing sessions rather than update reports.

“If I had to capture in one sentence the impact of this leaderships in the area of teamwork and excellent classroom teaching, it would be that they consistently move from curiosity to researching what could work, to sustainable innovation,” says Gauthier. “On the scale of 0 to 5, they are a 5.”

The purpose of the awards is to recognize outstanding contributions to math education in Ontario. This specific award honours a “secondary school mathematics department that fosters congeniality teamwork and excellent classroom teaching, contributes to overall development of students, and demonstrates leadership in mathematics community.”

Meet our Upper School math teachers in the video below.

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