Roosevelt Middle School student finds her smile
Irina Tamayo spent most of sixth grade with what she describes as “a mean face.”
She started each day at Roosevelt Middle School in Oakland with math. First period was hard. She often felt behind in math. It was a frustrating start to her day, which put her in a bad mood for the rest of the day. That resulted in a mean, mad face.
“I would not know something and we would have to move on. Sometimes it made me wonder why I should even do the assignment,” she said.
At 13, the eighth grader is no longer mad. Her “mean face” is gone. She is smiling, happy, attentive and engaged as she talks about math —a subject just last year she had been failing. In fact, she went from failing to a straight-A student.
“I went from being a really hard child —I just didn’t care— to this year, when I’m happy,” she said.
What changed? For Irina, it’s the people. She was influenced by those around her —“bad kids,” she says. There were lots of phone calls home and major talks with her mom. This year, Irina has noticed a shift in her own maturity, but also there have been changes with her peers.
Roosevelt Middle School started using Teach to One: Math this fall. Right away, Irina liked the idea —even when she wasn’t passing a specific lesson. It provided her time to work at her own pace while allowing the chance to practice. She also had the opportunity to work in small groups, which has resulted not only in new, more positive friendships, but also reinforced Irina’s confidence that people will help if she asks questions.
“I like math now. I used to think it was boring and confusing,” she said.
Irina prefers to work through problems using virtual instruction —when she uses a guided computer lesson to work at her own pace— or in a small group. Group settings have allowed Irina to seek help from and offer help to her peers.
And helping others isn’t just something that happens in math class. Irina wants to someday be an orthopedic doctor, because she likes helping others. To get there, she has to work hard to be sure she understands the lessons in class. She has become so accustomed to asking questions while in Teach to One: Math lessons that she finds herself raising her hand to ask questions more frequently in other classes as well.
The result? No more phone calls home and a daily smile at Roosevelt from Irina, who is confident that her hard work will allow her to graduate this year.