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Huron’s Brewer honored for teaching

Posted: Monday, Feb 25th, 2013

Shown is Lindsey Brewer, who received the 2013 Daktronics Outstanding Math Teacher Award on Feb. 9 at the South Dakota Council of Teachers and Mathematics (SDCTM) luncheon. She received a Daktronics Math Teacher of the Year plaque and $1,000 for classroom supplies. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

HURON — For Huron High School math teacher Lindsey Brewer, teaching has never been just a job. Her passion and biggest source of motivation is making a difference in the lives of her students.

Brewer received the Daktronics 2013 Outstanding Math Teacher Award on Feb. 9 at the South Dakota Council of Teachers of Mathematics (SDCTM) conference. Upon recognition, Brewer received a Daktronics Math Teacher of the Year plaque and $1,000 for classroom supplies. This is not the first time Brewer has been honored for excellence in her profession; in 2012, she was named the Huron School District High School Teacher of the Year.

“Teaching is an opportunity to inspire and empower,” said Brewer. “I believe that every student has the ability to learn math, and I help them develop this ability by believing in them and guiding the learning process. I hope to instill in them a love of learning, and maybe even a love of math.”

Brewer has always loved learning, and has enjoyed math for as long as she can remember. “Teaching has been a way to combine the two passions,” she said. “But my favorite part of being a teacher is interacting with the students, being around them and having an impact on their futures.”

A 2004 graduate of Huron University, Brewer completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Math Education with a double major in mathematics and biology and a double minor in technology and health. In 2007, she received a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in educational technology from Black Hills State University. She has plans for attaining a doctorate degree someday. “I challenge my students and also keep challenging myself,” she said.

Her first teaching job from 2004 to 2005 was at Howard High School, where she taught algebra I, geometry, algebra II and business math. In 2005, she started teaching in Huron and has remained ever since. She teaches pre-calculus, algebra II, integrated math II, health, and FST (Function, Statistics and Trigonometry) classes.

“Through the years, using technology has been the biggest change in my teaching style. My first year at Howard and my first couple years at Huron, I taught mainly with a whiteboard. But now I’ve completely integrated the use of calculators and lab equipment. I also teach with a tablet PC, and have implemented using an iPad.”

Her philosophy is “math is not a spectator sport, it needs to be hands on.” Brewer has tried many techniques to make math more visual for her students. “In my algebra class, when we start solving basic equations, to make it more visual, I have a little cup to represent ‘x’ and other items to represent numbers so that they can see the equation,” she said. “In my pre-calculus class, we recently started graphing sine and cosine equations. I gave them each a piece of liquorice so they could model the equation. They enjoyed doing that, and it makes the hours spent planning and prepping worth it.”

In her FST (functions, statistics and trigonometry) class, Brewer also tries to use real-life examples. “Anything from a swinging pendulum, to projectile motion such as throwing a football or hitting a baseball — those things are parabolic in nature.”

She also encourages her students to form their own experiments to create mathematical data. “We grab a lot of linear data, collect it and graph it,” she said.

Brewer has also been involved with a math textbook adaption committee as part of South Dakota Department of Education Common Core Professional Development program.

“We have been looking at textbooks for our state curriculum,” she said. “Since South Dakota adopted the common core standards for mathematics, we are in line with 38 other states that all basically decided to set the bar a little higher in math. When choosing textbooks, we are looking for something that has a higher level of difficulty and higher- order thinking. It really helps the students adjust to their college-level math courses.”

Her students have given her feedback that they have actually applied math concepts into their everyday lives. One student even helped her mom with something for work using a formula she learned in Brewer’s class – finding the sum of an arithmetic series. “I’ve had a few students go off to college and tell me that they were more prepared and that they’ve even been helping other college friends with math. That really makes me feel proud of them,” she said.

Brewer has attended the annual joint SDCTM/SDSTA (the South Dakota Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the South Dakota Science Teachers Association) conference since 2004. In 2007, she presented on the use of TI-Graphing calculators in the math classroom, and then in 2012, presented a technology smorgasbord of websites easily incorporated into the math classroom.

“When a student tells me, ‘I have never understood this before, until now,’ it gives you the warm, fuzzy feeling and you realize that they finally have experienced success in math. Many kids come into the classroom having negative attitudes about math, and I keep up the hope that maybe their attitudes can change.”

For the complete article see the 02-24-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 02-24-2013 paper.

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