Academics > Learning Support > Math Specialist

Math Specialist


Emelie Sutter
esutter@omcparish.com

Teaching Philosophy

As the math specialist, I work with students who are struggling as well as those who are above-grade level in a small group setting. I strive to create a safe and creative learning environment that enables students, at any level, to demonstrate their strengths. I try to motivate students to take risks by providing encouragement and support throughout the learning process. Importantly, in each lesson, I emphasize process-oriented skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. I believe that such skills are applicable across all content-areas and are essential both in and outside of the classroom.

For those students who are struggling in grades three through five, I work closely with each student’s’ primary teacher, learning support staff advocate, as well as with student’s entire support staff team to adjust instruction in order to meet each individual student’s needs within the framework of their respective curricula. A critical component to creating an inclusive learning environment is effective differentiated instruction and assessment. For example, in my experience as a mathematics instructor, the use of multiple representations, mathematical models and manipulatives enhances conceptual understanding and provides contextual support for learners at all levels. I strive to create lessons with multiple entry points and appropriate alternative assessments to provide every student an opportunity to learn, to contribute, and to demonstrate their knowledge regardless of his or her level.

Although critical at any age, I believe that the development of non-content related life skills is also an important component of students’ success both personally and academically in middle school. As a math specialist, I emphasize self-management strategies, including note-taking and study strategies, long-term planning and organization into daily lesson planning. Similarly, an integral part of my role as an educator and of the success of my students is to encourage resilience and to teach healthy coping strategies in the face of academic and personal challenges.

Overview of Curriculum

Horizons Math Program

In our Horizons Math program, I work with small groups of students in grades 3-5.  This small group setting works well for students who find math a struggle. 

In grade three, students deepen their number sense and knowledge of operations and place value through multi-digit arithmetic. Students learn to translate word problems into number sentences, using not only addition and subtraction, but multi-digit multiplication and division as well. Students also begin to explore the basics in fractions, geometry, and measurement.

In grade four, students build on their knowledge of number operations and algebraic thinking. Specifically, students gain familiarity with multiples and factors and begin to analyze, recognize, and generalize patterns. Students also explore the relationship between fractions and decimals, fraction equivalence, as well as ordering and comparing fractions. Students learn to draw and identify lines and angles and learn to identify shapes by the properties of their lines and angles.

In grade five, students learn to write and interpret numerical expressions. Students deepen their knowledge of fractions to include fraction equivalence as a means to add and subtract fractions as well as learn how to multiply and divide fractions. In geometry, students are introduced to the coordinate system and learn to graph points on a coordinate plane to solve real-world problems.

Advanced Math Program

In our Advanced Math program, I work with those students in grades 6-8 who are advanced in math. 

I meet with students in each grade twice a week as we explore the exciting world of algebra. Although students are introduced to algebraic concepts throughout their primary and middle school years, my students will essentially be working through a high-school level Algebra 1 course. Topics include variables and variable expressions; proportional reasoning, probability, and statistics; as well as linear, exponential, and quadratic functions. Importantly, students will practice applying mathematical ways of thinking to real world situations. Similarly, a major emphasis for advanced students will focus on the ability of students to use mathematical modelling to represent and analyze both empirical and everyday situations.

Background/Education

  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with concentration in Neural Basis of Behavior, University of Pennsylvania
  • Master of Science in Teacher Education, Saint Joseph’s University
  • Member, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
  • Member, National Science Teacher’s Association

As a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Psychology, I have always been interested in the cognitive, social, and emotional development of children and adolescents. Similarly, I believe my education as an undergraduate has had a significant impact on my teaching practice and my interest in students’ learning differences and learning styles. As a student teacher, I assumed the role and responsibilities of a fourth grade homeroom teacher. As such, I was able to not only practice and hone my teaching skills in math and science, but in social studies, computer science, and language arts as well. One of the most rewarding aspects of my experience, however, was being asked by faculty and administrators to tutor struggling students outside of the classroom. Similarly, I have several years experience in small group and individual instruction. I have worked with students of diverse background and levels of ability from kindergarten through eighth grade.