PARK CITY — When asked what’s her favorite aspect of teaching, Starla Buckley didn’t hesitate to respond.
“The kids, the kids, the kids,” Buckley said emphatically.
Buckley, a mathematics coach at Park City Elementary School, is also special as proven by a recent distinction awarded to her by her peers.
On Sept. 7, Buckley received the 2019 Ann S. Booth Mathematics Education Service and Achievement Award, or the MESA Award. It was presented to Buckley in Elizabethtown during the fall conference of the Kentucky Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The honor has been awarded by the organization since 1991 as chosen by a committee.
In a news release announcing the award, the council stated that Buckley “works side by side with teachers to develop high quality lessons and ideas to promote higher order thinking.”
“This state-level award is the highest honor given by KCTM,” the news release said. “Award winners are selected for their outstanding work in their area of expertise and their service to the mathematics community.”
Buckley has worked at Park City for 32 years, and she attended the school in seventh and eighth grades. Her principal at that time was Carroll Furlong, and he hired her onto the staff for her first teaching job.
The Barren County native is proud of her community and the achievements of Park City Elementary.
“I’m a diehard Barren County girl. Sometimes I don’t think we appreciate what we have in Barren County, even in our own school, because it’s part of what we’ve always had,” she said.
Buckley, who also teaches at the Western Kentucky University-Glasgow campus, wasn’t always a math wizard. She began her teaching career with an emphasis on reading before switching into the math role four years ago.
The eagerness of the Park City staff to have someone specialize in coaching mathematics has made the transition easy, Buckley said.
“They’re just so excited to learn and help the kids,” she said.
About half of her time is spent working with students in kindergarten through the third grade. She helps build conceptual understanding of math for students who have scored below the 20th percentile in the subject.
Buckley’s speciality is getting kids to understand the ideas behind math, not just to learn traditional algorithms.
“I will hear parents say they don’t understand new math. It’s not new math. What we are teaching kids is different strategies to solve problems, and it’s often things we do mentally and don’t even realize it’s a strategy,” she said.
“It’s about problem-solving and building that conceptual understanding that not only helps them know the math, but apply the math.”
One of the most rewarding parts of her job is seeing the light turn on in a young student’s mind when the concepts click.
“When they get it, they’re so excited. It’s so much fun when they get something in here, and they go back and share it,” Buckley said.
The remainder of Buckley’s time is spent working with other teachers on curriculum and resources.
Buckley has instructed many up and coming teachers in her job at WKU, and it was actually one of her former students and now co-workers who headed the effort to nominate her for the MESA Award.
Robert Brown is a fifth grade math teacher at Park City, and along with Park City Principal Anthony Janes, nominated Buckley for the award.
Buckley said she was surprised and humbled when she found out she’d won.
“I was shocked because I feel like I’m still learning,” she said. “I feel like I’m at that point where the more I know the more I realize that I have to learn.”
Buckley said she was blessed with excellent teachers during her childhood, and has had worked alongside inspirational teachers and principals during her career.
It’s not a job that’s going to lead to financial riches, and there have been discouraging remarks and media coverage about the profession in recent years, but Buckley said teaching is still a great profession.
“Kids are still kids. They’re still going to be things to deal with, but it’s still a wonderful profession,” she said. “It’s unlike so many other professions because you do touch lives, and they remember you.”
- Explained: Why is there no mathematics Nobel? The theories, the facts, the myths – The Indian Express
- Hunter students say answers add up in HSC mathematics exam – Newcastle Herald
- Craft students visit Calipari Lab at Vanderbilt – Morehead State University News
- Eskom Foundation rewards achievers in mathematics – ESI Africa
- All systems go for teaching of Science, Maths in English next year – Manyin – The Borneo Post
- Mathematics a tool of racial oppression, Seattle public schools committee says – American Thinker
- Sarawak set to implement teaching of science, maths in English – Malaysiakini
- Faculty of Science Students Challenged Themselves at an Asia-Pacific Region Mathematics Competition – UTM NewsHub
- Valle Crucis teacher awarded Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching – Watauga Democrat
- Proof of life – The Hub at Johns Hopkins