Learn detailed information about Westminster’s problem-based math instruction. Westminster’s problem-based instruction approach will be used in the following math classes for the 2015-16 school year: honors courses in grades 8, 9, and 10 and some sections of grade 11 honors pre-calculus.
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Habits of Mind: An organizing principle for mathematics curriculum and instruction (Michelle Manes)
Habits of Mind: An Organizing Principle for Mathematics Curriculum (Al Cuoco, E. Paul Goldenberg, and June Mark)
What instructional methods does Westminster’s Problem Based Instruction (PBI) method use?
Our PBI model utilizes a variety of techniques for student instruction; these include mini-lectures, probing questions from teachers to students, student-to-student questioning, clarifying/demonstrating problem solving techniques, traditional pencil and paper assessments, student presentations, and daily assignments.
Why use the PBI method?
PBI courses promote what may be called a multi-dimensional classroom atmosphere. In PBI classes, as in standard math classes, students learn to master mathematical operations and procedural calculations. In addition, the PBI model encourages students to rephrase problems, ask deeper questions, draw graphs and pictures to illustrate mathematical concepts, justify methods, and represent ideas.
Westminster’s PBI model provides time for students to thoughtfully discuss and present their work, both to small groups of peers and to the entire class. It provides a better learning environment in which to meet the goals of the math department.
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How does your implementation take into account the realities of the Westminster experience, including class size, number of math faculty, the caliber of our students, and students who struggle with learning math?
During the start of the program (fall 2013), teachers intentionally set up a classroom structure so that students had the opportunity to work with a partner, work in small groups, and interact with the entire class. Teachers adjusted the pacing of each class period based on their evaluation of student engagement with material and understanding of material. They also provided additional worksheets as needed.
Last year, after our mid-year evaluation of the program, teachers adjusted their interaction in the classroom. Teachers started (1) summarizing problems after student presentations, (2) assisting students earlier in the problem solving process, and (3) directing students to earlier problems with similar concepts as current problems. This helped students begin to see and use the structure of the curriculum to give insight into their learning.
This year, we have intentionally tried to reduce class sizes in all PBI courses. Teachers have recommended that the adjustments made last year remain.
While we believe that students need to take an increased responsibility for their learning, these changes should communicate to students that they really are learning in a safe yet academically challenging environment in which they are supported, directed, and nurtured by their teacher.
Did you make modifications to the curriculum taken from Phillips Exeter?
A team of four teachers, including the co-chairs of our mathematics department, visited Shady Side Academy during the 2012-13 school year. The team spent two days observing classes and interviewing teachers and students. Shady Side uses PBI curriculum and tracks students to place them in appropriate math classes; they adapted and adjusted Phillips Exeter Academy’s curriculum to meet the needs of their school. From our observations and interviews, we understand the caliber of Shady Side students to be comparable to that of Westminster students. We are using Shady Side’s curriculum as a model and modifying it to meet our students’ needs.
What does the Westminster PBI environment look like?
The PBI classroom looks a little different from a traditional math classroom. Upon entering a classroom, one will see and hear students interacting in small groups, working one-to-one with a partner, and presenting work to the entire class. Students work to solve problems for homework the night before class in order to prepare for class discussions.
What is the role of the teacher in PBI?
Teachers identify the content that students need to learn. They select and assign appropriate homework problems that illustrate that content. During class, teachers guide the discussions, ask probing questions, allow students to express their thinking; they also clarify, summarize, and extend the topic when appropriate to help students begin to see the connections between the problems.
We are seeking to create a community of learners that puts students in situations in which they will engage in active learning. These environments don’t just naturally arise; the classroom teacher actively plans and structures his/her class in a way that allows this to occur.
What other advantages are there to this approach?
Students learn more than only math. The structure of these classes builds a community of respect – one in which students learn humility as they listen to what others have to say and, at times, gently debate and disagree with one another. Active discussions engage students and propel the learning process. They allow students to synthesize their understanding, analyze different approaches to problems, and communicate their work in a safe environment.
Much of what goes on in the PBI classroom aims to cultivate valuable habits of mind and life. When students engage curriculum in this type of environment, they learn to develop courage, perseverance, resilience, and grit as they approach and work tenaciously through difficult problems. We have already seen marked growth for many of our second-year PBI students.
Is efficiency of procedures lost because procedures are not the focus?
As students gain deep understanding of a topic, the amount of practice needed tends to decrease. Teachers actively balance the amount of practice needed to achieve fluency with understanding.
How can I best support my student?
Encourage your student to:
Take thorough notes in class (it may be helpful to review his/her notes with him/her to ensure they’re neat, organized, and complete)
Persevere and focus on math homework (typically 30-45 minutes each night) by documenting his/her work
Advocate for himself/herself by asking his/her teacher and classmates for help
Attempt each problem on the homework assignment
What type of student will thrive in Westminster’s PBI model?
We believe all students can succeed in the PBI environment when they approach the learning experience with an inquisitive mind, a strong work ethic, and a desire to learn.
Why do students have 3-5 problems a night?
Keeping the homework assignments short allows for students to engage deeply with each problem. This also allows time to effectively discuss each problem in class.
Since the problems are more difficult and the students are not getting help beforehand, how do they know what to do?
As with traditional curriculums, our PBI curriculum begins by reviewing concepts from prior coursework. Therefore, students should have the background they need to make an informed effort to resolve problems. Once the review problems are finished, new concepts are introduced incrementally in similar problems and are spiralled throughout the curriculum.
On occasion, there will be one or two problems that a student does not have the background or skills to complete correctly. However, usually the information provided in the setup of the problem provides students with directions to follow, or questions to guide their thinking about the problem. By writing down their responses to the directions and/or answering the questions posed, students will be prepared to actively participate the next day in class.
Simply stated, the homework problems and notes from class provide students the concepts and strategies they need to solve future problems.
How do you keep students from giving up or becoming overly frustrated?
We actively encourage and provide support to students throughout the year. Some students quickly adapt to the new curriculum and challenges while others might struggle for several months. If your student is feeling frustrated, encourage him/her to meet with his/her teacher to discuss ways of improving his/her performance in class.
What Westminster math courses will be using the PBI approach in the future?
Currently, the following courses are being taught in Westminster’s PBI model: Algebra 1, Honors Geometry, Honors Algebra 2, College Algebra, and Integrated Algebra/Geometry Year 1 and Year 2.
We are on a trajectory to implement PBI in our honors classes in grades 8-10. Generally, concepts and non-honors courses that use the direct instruction approach will continue to be offered.
What data will we use to track the program’s effectiveness in comparison to a traditional approach?
We will take into consideration standardized test performance (ERB and ACT), interviews with Westminster science and physics teachers, interviews with students, observations of and interactions with other PBI schools, and research on the broader implementation of PBI.
We have invited select faculty from the two schools that we visited, Shady Side and Ben Lippen, to our campus to evaluate our implementation of PBI and offer their advice. We plan to set the stage for an active, ongoing collaboration with schools that are using a PBI curriculum.
Finally, we will continue to investigate the program in order to establish plans for the next three to five years.
The purpose of the Mathematics Department is to provide students the ability to better understand Creation, hence the mind and character of the Creator; the knowledge and skills necessary to model quantitative and spatial situations in all disciplines; and the opportunity to develop skills in logical reasoning, problem solving, and technology. The courses offered at Westminster are designed to meet the needs of students of all abilities, interests, and college and career objectives.
What a Westminster student will learn and be able to accomplish in mathematics
Realize that the universe was created with perfect mathematical relationships that must be distinguished from our imperfect understanding of them
Observe that God has created mankind with the ability to discover and use mathematics to understand His creation
Demonstrate knowledge of mathematical theory, skill in using mathematical methods, and efficiency in problem solving
Become proficient in using technology as a tool for calculation, processing data, and problem solving
Take the mathematics courses necessary to meet his/her future educational and career objectives
Apply mathematical concepts and problem solving strategies in other classes and disciplines as well as in daily life
Value the knowledge of mathematics as a gift from God and use it in an honest manner and for noble purposes
Demonstrate confidence in his/her ability to use mathematics to solve problems in all applicable situations
Courses taught using a problem-based approach are indicated by (PBI).
Courses taught using a direct instruction approach are indicated by (DI).
Dual enrollment offerings with Missouri Baptist University are indicated by (E).
Advanced Placement courses are indicated by (AP).
Algebra I (DI) (9th Grade) – 1 Unit
Students study the traditional topics of Algebra I. This course is designed to communicate that math is important as a modeling and problem solving tool. Students will:
Learn the terminology and symbols of algebra.
Review and use fractions, decimals, percents, ratios, and proportions.
Create and use expressions and equations to solve problems.
Simplify rational, radical, and polynomial expressions.
Write and solve linear equations and linear systems.
Recognize that a constant rate of change produces a linear graph.
Graph linear functions using slope.
Solve quadratic equations.
Review operations with polynomials.
Use basic geometric and algebraic properties and formulas to solve problems.
Key Text: TBA
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Algebra I Concepts (DI) – 1 Unit
Students study the traditional topics of Algebra I. The small class size allows the teacher to differentiate instruction to meet the individual needs of learners. Students will:
Learn the terminology and symbols of algebra.
Review and use fractions, decimals, percents, ratios, and proportions.
Create and use expressions and equations to solve problems.
Simplify rational, radical, and polynomial expressions.
Write and solve linear equations and linear systems.
Recognize that a constant rate of change produces a linear graph.
Graph linear functions using slope.
Solve quadratic equations.
Review operations with polynomials.
Use basic geometric and algebraic properties and formulas to solve problems.
Key Text: TBA
Geometry Honors (PBI) – 1 Unit
Students use a problem-based approach to study the traditional topics of geometry. The pace of the class allows for additional topics and accommodates deeper exploration of the following concepts, in turn preparing students for Algebra II:
Learn the tools, terminology, and symbols of geometry.
Investigate and discover the properties of triangles, quadrilaterals, and circles.
Calculate the perimeters and areas of plane figures.
Study vectors and their applications to velocity and forces in physics.
Learn to identify and solve problems using congruent or similar figures.
Calculate the volume and surface area of three-dimensional figures.
Develop deductive reasoning skills using two-column and coordinate proofs.
Solve circle problems involving chords, secants, and tangents.
Key Text: Honors Geometry, adapted from Ben Lippen Christian High School and Phillips Exeter Academy
Geometry (DI) – 1 Unit
In this course the standard topics of Euclidean geometry are developed using the traditional synthetic approach, the analytical coordinate approach, and the modern transformational approach. Both inductive and deductive thinking skills are developed as students move from informal reasoning to formal proof. Extensive amounts of algebra and trigonometry are interwoven throughout the course. Students will:
Learn the tools, terminology, and symbols of geometry.
Investigate and discover the properties of triangles, quadrilaterals, and circles.
Calculate the perimeters and areas of plane figures.
Study vectors and their applications to velocity and forces in physics.
Learn to identify and solve problems using congruent or similar figures.
Calculate the volume and surface area of three-dimensional figures.
Develop deductive reasoning skills using two-column and coordinate proofs.
Solve circle problems involving chords, secants, and tangents.
Key Text: Geometry, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co., 2011
Geometry Concepts (DI) – 1 Unit
Material is presented in a step-by-step method that emphasizes the major geometric concepts. Hands-on activities and other manipulative aides are used to further meet the needs of these special learners. Topics covered in this course include recognizing various types of two- and three-dimensional figures, including their particular parts and properties; finding area, volume, perimeter, circumference, and surface area; and learning to measure and draw angles, segments, and other figures that make geometry possible. Students will:
More fully develop their ability to recognize, measure, and work with various geometric shapes and figures.
Learn to utilize vocabulary related to geometry and its concepts.
Learn from one another through review activities and hands-on projects.
Gain self-confidence in the area of mathematics to support further efforts in higher math classes.
Key Text: Geometry Concepts and Skills, McDougal Littell, 2003; Discovering Geometry, Key Curriculum Press, 2008
Algebra II Honors (PBI) – 1 Unit
Students use a problem-based approach to study the traditional topics of Algebra II. The pace of the class allows for additional topics and accommodates deeper exploration of the following concepts. This course prepares students for Precalculus by focusing on the following:
Quadratic, exponential, absolute value, and power models for sets of data points
Rational functions
Polynomial functions
Trigonometry functions
Key Text: Math 2 – adapted from Phillips Exeter Academy
Prerequisite: Grade of B or above in Honors Geometry and/or teacher recommendation
Algebra II (DI) – 1 Unit
Study of the topics in Algebra II will allow students the opportunity to build on concepts learned in Algebra I and Geometry. Students will learn to work with and solve problems algebraically, graphically, and with a graphing calculator in these main areas of study:
Linear equations, inequalities, and systems
Quadratic functions and relations
Polynomials and polynomial functions
Roots and powers
Exponential and logarithmic functions and equations
Patterns of growth and rates of change
Rational functions and equations.
Key Text: Algebra 2, McDougal Littell, 2008
Prerequisite: Geometry
Algebra II Concepts (DI) – 1 Unit
In this course, material is presented in a step-by-step format at a pace dictated by the needs of the students. The main goal is to increase students’ algebraic understanding to better prepare them for the ACT test and college mathematics. Students will learn to work with and solve problems in these main areas of study:
Linear and quadratic equations and inequalities.
Linear equations and inequalities in two variables.
Systems of linear equations
Polynomial, rational, exponential and radical expressions and equations.
Key Text: Algebra 2, Cord Communications, 2011
Precalculus & Statistics (AP) (DI) – 1 Unit
This course begins with a thorough treatment of functions, which will prepare students for AP Calculus. It concludes with the topics covered on the AP Statistics exam. Students will:
Study algebraic, exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric functions; limits; and parametric equations.
Learn to use the function model as the primary tool for solving problems involving variables.
Learn methods and strategies for exploring, organizing, and describing data using graphs and numerical summaries.
Learn how to design samples and experiments in order to produce the data needed to give clear answers to specific questions.
Study probability, how it is used to describe randomness, and why it is the basis of statistical inference.
Study the basic methods of statistical inference: confidence intervals and tests of significance.
Key Texts: Functions Modeling Change, 2nd edition 2004, John Wiley & Sons; The Practice of Statistics, 4th edition, 2012, W. H. Freeman
Prerequisites: Grade of B+ or above in Honors Algebra II and/or teacher recommendation
Precalculus Honors (PBI) (DI) – 1 Unit
This course consists of a thorough treatment of algebraic and transcendental functions. Functions will be represented with words, tables, formulas, and graphs. Students will use the function model as the primary tool for solving problems involving variables. This course will prepare students for AP Calculus. Students will study:
The transcendental functions (trigonometric, inverse trigonometric, exponential and logarithmic).
Function topics such as transformations, compositions, decompositions, inverses, rates of change and limits.
Piecewise defined functions and parametric equations.
Key Text: TBA
Prerequisite: Algebra II and/or teacher recommendation
College Algebra (E) (DI) – 1 Unit
This course is designed as a comprehensive treatment of algebraic and exponential functions. Each function will be examined in terms of its formula, graph, table of values and applications. Students will use the function model for problem solving involving variables. Students will gain a conceptual understanding of functions, as well as technical skill in using their properties. The goal of this course is for students to see the power and beauty of algebra and to build a solid foundation for further mathematics courses. Students will study:
Real number system: its operations and properties.
Expressions, equations, inequalities and intervals.
Linear, absolute value, quadratic, and polynomial functions.
Power functions and radical functions.
Exponential and logarithmic functions.
Transformations of functions and their graphs.
Solving systems of equations and using matrices.
Probability and counting principles.
Sequences and series.
Key Texts: TBA
Prerequisite: Grade of C or above in Algebra II
Advanced Math Concepts (DI) – 1 Unit
This course is designed for students who desire a college preparatory mathematics elective. Material is presented in a step-by-step format at a pace dictated by the needs of the student. This course is designed to give students practical applications of math in and outside the classroom, a foundation in mathematical disciplines, and a better background for the college experience. Students will cover the following units:
Problem Solving Strategies
Real Number Theory
Scientific Notation and Conversion
Financial Applications in Math
Probability
Statistics
Worldview Perspectives in Math
Algebraic & Geometric Theory
Graph Theory and Discrete Math
Key texts: Math in Our World, 2011, McGraw Hill
Calculus AB (AP) (DI) – 1 Unit
This course in single-variable calculus includes both the techniques and the applications of the derivative and the definite integral along with terminology of limits. Each calculus topic is examined using verbal, algebraic, numerical and graphical representations. Students will use graphing calculators for exploration and in problem solving to find limits, derivatives and integrals. Students will gain a deep understanding of the ideas of calculus, as well as technical skill in applying derivatives and integrals. Students will discover the logic of calculus and build a strong foundational understanding of the fundamental ideas and methods of calculus in preparation for further study. Students will:
Calculate average and instantaneous rates of change using the notation of limits.
Develop an understanding of the derivative and discover the rules for differentiation.
Use derivatives to analyze the graphs of functions to determine extrema and inflection points.
Acquire an understanding of the Riemann sum and the definite integral.
Learn the methods of implicit and logarithmic differentiation and apply those methods in related rate problems.
Study the important theorems of calculus: Mean Value, Extreme Value and Intermediate Value Theorems.
Develop skill in finding indefinite integrals (antiderivatives) and discover the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.
Use definite integrals to find area, volume, the length of a curve and the amount of change in a quantity.
Solve differential equations and apply them in modeling rates in business and the physical sciences.
Learn the techniques of integration by parts, algebraic and trigonometric substitution, and partial fractions.
Study the approximation of functions using tangent lines and Taylor Polynomials.
Key Text: Interactive AP Calculus Binder, Haas, Winter Park Publishing, updated 2014
Supplementary Text: Calculus, Early Transcendentals, 7th edition, AP edition, James Stewart, Brooks/Cole, 2012
Prerequisites: Grade of C or above in Precalculus (Honors) and/or teacher recommendation
Calculus BC (AP) (DI) – 1 Unit
This is a course in multivariable calculus where students study the calculus of functions of several variables. The course emphasizes the topics needed for the BC Calculus AP exam. Students will study the calculus of plane curves using parametric equations. Polar coordinates will be used for finding areas and arc lengths. Euler’s method will be used to approximate the solution to differential equations and the logistic model will be studied in depth. Students will gain further skills in integration techniques such as integration by parts, partial fractions, and trigonometric substitution as well as examine improper integrals. Students will study the calculus of Taylor polynomials and series. Vectors will be used to study the geometry of three-dimensional space using the rectangular, cylindrical and spherical coordinate systems. Students will learn the differentiation and integration of vector-valued functions to measure arc length, curvature, velocity, and acceleration. Partial derivatives, directional derivatives, and gradient vectors will assist students in finding tangent planes, normal lines, and the extrema of functions of two variables. Double, iterated, and triple integrals will be used to find surface areas and volumes using the rectangular, cylindrical and spherical coordinate systems. Vector analysis will include vector fields, line integrals, Green’s Theorem, surface integrals, the Divergence Theorem, and Stoke’s Theorem.
Key Text: Multivariable Calculus, 7th edition, James Stewart, Brooks/Cole, 2011.
Prerequisite: Algebra II, Grade of B or above in Calculus AB (AP), and/or teacher recommendation.
Statistics (AP) (DI) – 1 Unit
This course includes the topics covered on the AP Statistics exam. Students will:
Learn methods and strategies for exploring, organizing, and describing data using graphs and numerical summaries.
Learn how to design samples and experiments in order to produce the data needed to give clear answers to specific questions.
Study probability, how it is used to describe randomness, and why it is the basis of statistical inference.
Study the basic methods of statistical inference: confidence intervals and tests of significance.
Key Text: The Practice of Statistics, 4th edition, 2011
Prerequisites: Grade of B or above in Honors Algebra II and/or teacher recommendation
Statistics (DI) – 1 Unit
This is an introductory course in statistics. The focus of this course is on statistical ideas and reasoning and their relevance to today’s world. Students will:
Learn methods and strategies for exploring, organizing, and describing data using graphs and numerical summaries.
Learn how to design samples and experiments in order to produce the data needed to give clear answers to specific questions.
Study probability, how it is used to describe randomness, and why it is the basis of statistical inference.
Study the basic methods of statistical inference: confidence intervals and tests of significance.
Key Texts: Statistics Through Applications, 2nd edition, 2011.
Prerequisite: Algebra II
Computer Programming with Visual BASIC ½ Unit
Students learn Microsoft Visual BASIC 10 and concepts used in object-oriented programming. Basic programming skills are applied to practical problems and ideas. Students will learn data structures common to all programming languages and demonstrate problem-solving and creative program design skills while using Visual Basic 10.
Key Text: Microsoft Visual Basic 10, Comprehensive, Shelley and Corinne Hoisington
Computer Programming with C++ ½ Unit
In this programming class, students will learn how to develop computer programs using the C++ programming language. The class begins with structured C++ programming and moves to object-oriented programming including C++ class design. Through a variety of class projects, students will learn the syntax, concepts, and tools necessary to create computer programs that will solve puzzles, simulate physics models, and interact with routines written by their classmates.
Prerequisite: Teacher recommendation.
Courses taught using a problem-based approach are indicated by (PBI).
Courses taught using a direct instruction approach are indicated by (DI).
Pre-Algebra Honors (DI) (7th Grade) – 1 Unit
This course is designed to prepare students for Honors Algebra I and Honors Geometry. It is intended for those who have a strong aptitude in math and have demonstrated mastery of basic pre-algebra skills. Students will explore more advanced pre-algebra concepts that require higher-level thinking skills. Students will also be introduced to beginning algebra concepts and will:
Sharpen their arithmetic skills by working with fractions, decimals, percents, ratios, and proportions
Develop a foundation for algebra by understanding and working with integers, number theory, variables,variable expressions, and equations.
Study the coordinate plane and graphing techniques by graphing linear equations in slope-intercept and point-slope form, solving systems of linear equations and graphing linear equations.
Develop a foundation for geometry by understanding and working with angle relationships, area and volume.
Introduce irrational numbers, specifically square roots, and apply them to finding distance and using the Pythagorean theorem.
Work with polynomials and solve quadratic equations.
Implement problem solving strategies and techniques to approach multi-step, real-life application problems.
Relate math concepts to God’s Word.
Key Text: PreAlgebra: McDougal Littell, 2005
More CoursesPre-Algebra (DI) (7th Grade) – 1 Unit
This course is designed to prepare students for Algebra I and Geometry. Students will:
Sharpen their arithmetic skills by working with fractions, decimals, percents, ratios, and proportions.
Develop a foundation for algebra by understanding and working with integers, number theory, variables,variable expressions, and equations.
Study the coordinate plane and introductory graphing techniques by graphing linear equations and inequalities in slope-intercept form.
Develop a foundation for geometry by understanding and working with shapes, area, perimeter, volume, and angles.
Introduce irrational numbers, specifically square roots, and apply them to finding distance and using the Pythagorean theorem.
Implement problem solving strategies and techniques to approach multi-step, real-life application problems.
Relate math concepts to God’s Word.
Key Text: PreAlgebra: McDougal Littell, 2005
Algebra I Honors (PBI) (8th Grade) – 1 Unit
Students use a problem-based approach to study the traditional topics of Algebra I. This course is designed to communicate that math is important as a modeling and problem solving tool. Students will:
Learn the terminology and symbols of algebra.
Review and use fractions, decimals, percents, ratios, and proportions.
Create and use expressions and equations to solve problems.
Simplify rational, radical, and polynomial expressions.
Write and solve linear equations and linear systems.
Recognize that a constant rate of change produces a linear graph.
Graph linear functions using slope.
Solve quadratic equations.
Review operations with polynomials.
Use basic geometric and algebraic properties and formulas to solve problems.
Key Text: Math 1 Packet – adapted from Phillips Exeter Academy
Algebra I (DI) (8th Grade) – 1 Unit
This course is designed to communicate that math is important as a modeling and problem solving tool. Students will:
Learn the terminology and symbols of algebra.
Review and use fractions, decimals, percents, ratios, and proportions
Create and use expressions and equations to solve problems.
Simplify rational, radical, and polynomial expressions.
Write and solve linear equations and linear systems.
Recognize that a constant rate of change produces a linear graph.
Graph linear functions using slope.
Solve quadratic equations.
Review operations with polynomials.
Use basic geometric and algebraic properties and formulas to solve problems.
Key Text: TBA
Dale Beachy
Math Department Co-Chair / Middle School Math (Algebra 1, Pre-Algebra)
dbeachy@wcastl.org
Dale has a B.S. in Elementary Education from Greenville College and a Master’s in Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He came to Westminster in 2000 and over the course of his career has served as an elementary teacher, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) teacher, university math adjunct, and middle school math teacher.
During middle school, math was a difficult subject for me. The experience [of teaching math] helps me relate to students who are struggling and have a low confidence level. I want my students to realize that through hard work and a desire to learn, they can improve their ability to understand and apply mathematics.
Jacob Mohler
Math Department Co-Chair / Upper School Math (Algebra 1 Concepts, College Algebra)
jmohler@wcastl.org
Jacob has a B.S. in Mathematics from Hillsdale College and an M.A. in Mathematics from St. Louis University. Jacob began his tenure as an upper school math teacher at Westminster in 2006. Over the course of his career, he has served as a middle school and high school math teacher at Schaeffer Academy; a graduate assistant in finite math, business calculus, and college algebra at Saint Louis University; an adjunct instructor in college algebra at Southwest Illinois College; and an adjunct instructor in symbolic logic and college algebra at Webster University. At Westminster, Jacob also oversees the National Honor Society. His wife Katie teaches at Covenant Christian School as the outdoors experiential coordinator, and their two children Emma and Ian attend school there.
I became a math teacher because I wanted students to learn math in a better environment than I did. A teacher who was trained to teach English taught me math. There are wonderful notions in math of how numbers found in the natural world point to a Creator. For this reason, as I noticed how God has left clues for us to see His handiwork, I wanted to find ways to show students similar things. Thinking about math as the language and logic God used to create the world was too good a secret for me to keep. Now I want students to think about their involvement in the mathematical enterprise as a means to join God as co-creators of interesting things.
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Erin Albright
Upper School Math (Geometry, Algebra 2 Honors)
ealbright@wcastl.org
Erin has a B.A. in Mathematics and Education from Trinity Christian College. In 2012, she joined the faculty at Westminster and has taught both geometry and algebra.
I decided to become a math teacher because I love the subject, and I love working with kids. I love the beauty of math and how connected it is, and I wanted to share that with students. It’s an extremely joyful experience to see a student, especially one who struggles, finally understand the material.
Matt DeJong
Upper School Math (Geometry, Algebra 2)
mdejong@wcastl.org
Matt has a B.A. in Mathematics and Secondary Education from Dordt College. He began his first year of teaching at Westminster in 2014 and married his wife Mia the same year.
I enjoyed math when I was a student, and I liked to help my classmates learn it, too. I also believe that math teaches logic and problem-solving, which are two essential skills in any career.
Rachel Endel
Middle School Math (Pre-Algebra 7, Integrated Algebra/Geometry, Algebra 1 Honors)
rendel@wcastl.org
Rachel holds a B.S. in Mathematics from Union University. She came to Westminster in 2012 and has taught algebra and pre-algebra, as well as 8th grade science. Rachel also coaches 7th grade volleyball.
I wanted to be a teacher as long as I can remember. I was fortunate to have several influential math teachers throughout my years in school, and they inspired me to follow in their footsteps. I enjoy working with students and helping them learn math!
David Haas
Upper School Math (Pre-Calculus Honors, Calculus AB (AP), Calculus BC (AP))
dhaas@wcastl.org
David has a B.S. in Mathematics from Wheaton College and an M.A.T. in Secondary Math from Webster University. He came to Westminster in 1981 and has taught geometry, algebra, precalculus, and calculus. David has also served as math club advisor and chess club advisor. His wife Junia is the music director at Spring Hills Presbyterian Church, and they have four children. Philip ’09 is the drummer in the band GoDownMoses; Joanna ’07 works as a nurse; Sarah ’04 works in film and film institute support; and Heather ’03 (and her husband Jeff) have a daughter Lydia and live in Wheaton, Illinois.
I have enjoyed math and explaining it to others, and I have always enjoyed working with high school students.
Rex Janssen
Upper School Math (Geometry Concepts, Geometry Honors)
rjanssen@wcastl.org
Rex has a B.A. in Mathematics Education and Physical Education from Dordt College. He started at Westminster in 1999 and over the course of his career has taught K-12 physical education, business math, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and probability and statistics. Rex also serves as the varsity girls golf assistant coach and JV golf coach for both the boys and girls teams. He and his wife Wendy, a personal chef, have been married for 27 years. Their oldest daughter Kelsey ’08 lives in Anaheim, California, with her husband Josh; their son Caleb ’12 is a junior at Calvin College; and their daughter Leah ’13 is a sophomore there.
I love math and love kids. Teaching is a gift the Lord has given to me.
Maggie Moore
Upper School Math (Algebra 2, Calculus AB (AP))
mmoore@wcastl.org
Maggie has a B.S. in Applied Mathematics from Missouri University of Science and Technology; a B.A. in Economics & Finance (also from S&T), and an M.A. in Math Education from Maryville University. In 2013, she began teaching at Westminster where she has taught calculus, algebra, and Principles of Engineering. Previously, she taught algebra and probability and statistics at Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Maggie’s family, including her brother Daniel ’11, lives in the St. Louis area. She has the pleasure of working at Westminster with her second family – her roommates Kristin Janssen, Rachel Endel, and Erin Albright.
In college, I started substitute teaching for extra money. I went on to work for an engineering company out of school but fondly remembered my subbing days and realized my true passion was to help kids get excited about learning what is often deemed a difficult subject. I wanted to prepare tomorrow’s leaders and am loving every second here at Westminster!
Robert Murphy
Upper School Math (Algebra 1, Advanced Math Concepts, Pre-Calculus Honors)
rmurphy@wcastl.org
Robert has a B.S.N. in General Studies from Western Washington University and a Master’s of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary. He came to Westminster in 2011 and has taught various algebra classes, precalculus, advanced math concepts, and Civil Engineering and Architecture (CEA). Robert has been married for 13 years and has three children: Violet (4), Elanor (8), and Reason (10). They attend Providence Reformed Church.
I decided to become a math teacher because I knew God was calling me into education, and math was never difficult for me, even at the highest levels. I care about the whole student, and mathematics is the language of Creation care – the ability for people to manage the impersonal aspects of God’s world.
Allison Pautler
Middle School Math (Pre-Algebra 7, Pre-Algebra 7 Honors)
apautler@wcastl.org
Allison has a B.A. in Mathematics from Hope College. She came to Westminster in 2008. In addition to having taught pre-algebra (regular and honors) and 7th grade P.E., Allison also serves as a Middle School Leadership Club sponsor and the 7th grade Team Leader.
I wanted to become a math teacher because I love working with kids. I worked at a summer camp in college and fell in love with middle school children. I think math is powerful and a huge part of our everyday lives, yet unfortunately too many kids are turned off to math because they lose confidence or don’t see the purpose. I wanted to change that – to help kids believe that they are capable of succeeding at math and see the importance and application it has in their lives.
JD Perona
Middle School Math (Algebra 1, Integrated Algebra/Geometry)
jperona@wcastl.org
JD has a B.S. in Math Education from Taylor University and an M.A. in Athletic Administration from William Woods University. He started teaching at Westminster in 1998. Previously, he taught pre-algebra, calculus, and career planning in Ft. Wayne, Indiana for two years. Since coming to Westminster, JD has taught 7th grade pre-algebra, a problem solving class, and 8th grade algebra and has also tutored several students over the years. JD also serves as middle school wrestling coach. He has been married to his wife Christan, director of admissions at Central Christian School, since July of 1996. Their son Clayton is in 7th grade at Westminster; JD enjoys riding to and from school with him every day and seeing him in the hallways and Cafe. Their daughter Kharis is in 5th grade at Central Christian School.
I always enjoyed math in school and have always loved figuring things out and solving problems. I also love seeing God’s fingerprint on math. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know, just like with God. We believe that all truth is God’s truth, which makes it enjoyable for me to try and understand math. My desire is for the kids I teach to see math in this way as well. It is not about just learning math and solving problems but ultimately better knowing and understanding God.
Rich Van Gilst
Upper School Math (Statistics, Statistics (AP), Pre-Calculus/Statistics (AP))
rvangilst@wcastl.org
Rich has a B.S. in Mathematics from Calvin College and an M.A. in Mathematics from Western Michigan University. He came to Westminster in 1984 and has since taught every math class offered in middle school and upper school with the exception of geometry and calculus. Rich also serves as the varsity boys baseball coach.
I have always enjoyed math. Some kids play with things or build things, but I always enjoyed figuring things out with a pencil and paper.
Kelsey Walton
Upper School Math (Geometry Honors, Algebra 2 Concepts, Algebra 2 Honors)
kwalton@wcastl.org
Kelsey holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Calvin College. She came to Westminster in 2010 and has taught algebra 2 (regular, concepts, and honors) and geometry (regular and honors). Kelsey also serves as the JV girls volleyball coach.
I became a math teacher because I enjoyed the subject and wanted to work with kids. I’ve stayed a math teacher because I understand that our world is constantly changing, and I believe math is an important tool to teach the thinking and problem solving skills necessary to navigate and redeem this world.