Pamela Kostbar-Jarvis sends an email to her fellow Cobleskill-Richmondville High School teachers every evening.
It’s a moderately sized list that she’d like to see become even bigger.
The list contains the names of high school students who have sought her help for various problems in math during that school day.
Seven years ago, enrollment fluctuations allowed the district to pull a teacher from the classroom to implement CREW – Cobleskill-Richmondville Educational Workplace, which offered widespread tutor availability during the school day. However, when enrollment increased several years ago, the program was halted to accommodate the need for more classroom staff.
For the 2014-15 school year, the district is able to bring CREW back because the high school’s teacher-student ratio is at a point where the program could be restarted. Mrs. Kostbar-Jarvis, who has taught all levels but calculus at Cobleskill-Richmondville, is available to help (along with a student teacher) in Room 117.
She is currently visiting each high school math class to introduce herself. Mrs. Kostbar-Jarvis is careful not to make her subject appear more valuable than any other discipline. She doesn’t want to sound like math is the be-all, end-all of a student’s day.
But amid a national trend of lagging math and science aptitude, she points out that getting students ahead of the curve – which often means catching them up now – is critical right away, even well before college years.
“Almost everybody requires an extra boost when it comes to math,” Mrs. Kostbar-Jarvis said as three students sat nearby, getting assistance from a student teacher during the day’s final period. “That’s the reality of it.”
Mrs. Kostbar-Jarvis’ big concern is students falling behind, which many national resources point out will begin to limit college eligibility – especially for courses or majors that students may have their hearts set on when they leave high school.
She teaches more traditional math classes during three periods, but is otherwise available to assist students in a myriad of math topics during periods 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 9. In-school tutoring is important as students may be too busy after the final bell to seek help.
Signing out of study hall is an option. Though, tricksters beware: that’s in part why the CREW organizer checks in with her colleagues. She’ll ensure students are where they say they are going. So far, that’s hardly been an issue.
“CREW works because it is a choice given to students,” Principal Melissa Ausfeld said. “They are the ones making the decision to receive extra help, and they get to choose the time and the topic they work in. Any time that a student is given a choice for anything, the buy-in is greater.”
More than anything, Mrs. Kostbar-Jarvis likes to add names to the list of attendees, whether they’re getting help for five minutes or nearly 45. That’s why she sends the nightly email to update the other teachers, especially her math colleagues.
Her phrase: “Energy begets energy.”
Meaning: She gets pumped up by seeing students work hard to improve and even more excited at seeing their pleasure with the results.
“It’ll take time to build CREW Math up,” Mrs. Kostbar-Jarvis said. “It may take the first marking period, but I think it’ll catch on.”