Finding the solution: Math teachers share what class is like


Christina Orozco

Advanced Algebra II/Geometry teacher Katy Seloff demonstrates a problem on the board for her class.

Nicholas Scoggins, Staff Reporter

Even though it is a subject that is both beloved and reviled, math is one of the most critical subjects taught at Vandegrift. Being one of four main subjects taught in school, math prepares students for a career beyond high school.  So while many think of it as supporting their job, for several teachers at Vandegrift, it is their job.


“I knew in high school that I wanted to be a math teacher,” Pre-Cal/Algebra 2 teacher Jenni Darlow said. “I helped my friends in our math classes, not just with homework, but sometimes I would even make up test reviews for them.”


Some math teachers at Vandegrift also had jobs beforehand where they used math extensively, and eventually decided that teaching math to the country’s future generation would be more fulfilling.


I actually started out as a Biology major, planning to become a secondary science teacher,” Advanced Algebra II/Geometry teacher Katy Seloff said. “I became a tutor/teacher for a local SAT/ACT prep company, which is when I discovered that I can explain math in what seems to be a particularly clear way for many students, leading to my transition to math.”


With math often having difficult material, math teachers must  ensure that they can adequately explain the concepts to their students.


“Before a lesson, I make sure I am familiar with the examples we will work through and what potential mistakes will be common so that I’m ready to address them,” Darlow said.



After teachers are done for the school day, they must spend time after class to conduct various administrative tasks and prepare for the next school day.


After class, there’s a lot of grading and paperwork-type activities: entering grades, responding to emails, attending meetings, keeping track of late work, sending out reminders and grade notifications and keeping up with paperwork for students who receive services through a 504 plan or an IEP,” Seloff said. “There’s also always answering student questions, either in tutorials or when students just stop by, and working to get to know students well and build a relationship with them.”


In spite of all of this work, Vandegrift math teachers say that it pays off to see their students overcome the rigor of the course and actually learn something new.


“The most rewarding things in the classroom are seeing students learn and understand something new, and seeing them gain confidence in their abilities,” Darlow said. “The biggest way that math classes prepare all students–not just students interested in a math related field–for life beyond high school is in perseverance and the problem solving process.”


Other teachers desire the person-to-person connection they make with their students, learning about their daily lives and their interests and wishes.


There have been many times that I have almost teared up while having a heart-to-heart conversation with a student about what’s going on in their life,” Seloff said. “I love how I am able to get to know my students on this level and be available as a resource to them.”