Mathematical Minds

By Kaila Perez

I had the opportunity to step into math time in Ms. Fonto and Mr. Gaines' fourth grade classes where students were pushed to improve their problem-solving abilities. The students do activities that not only stimulate analytical thinking but also push them to work collaboratively. What I loved most about being in the classroom was feeling the productive and joyful energy. I tried to encapsulate the wide range of emotions the students experienced when doing math exercises-frustration, excitement, confidence, relief, and joy.

It was a pleasure watching Mr. Gaines and Ms. Fontno teach; it was evident by the way they interact with their students that they are passionate about helping them master the fundamentals of math. I had the chance to ask the students about what they want to be when they grow up and I got a wide range of responses from doctors to singers to professional basketball players. Although the students have different aspirations, Mr. Gaines reiterats that regardless of what aspirations they may have, a strong mathematical foundation is absolutely necessary to be a productive citizen. Truth is that many students at Y.E. Smith face hardships and have a couple more hurdles to jump over than the average American child and the teachers understand that having strong quantitative skills and analytical tools can open doors for them. Ms. Fonto and Mr. Gaines, with their infectious positivity and their range of teaching methods, make math time fun and better prepare their students for future endeavors.