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Teachers hope to make math IMPACT

Ohio University Southern is looking to make an IMPACT in the way Ohio students learn math.

The southern campus will play host to Improving Math Practices and Classroom Teaching, or IMPACT, a two-day conference exclusively for Ohio's primary educators of math. The conference will take place in the Riffe Center of OUS on Monday and Tuesday.

The event is being sponsored by the Ohio Department of Education and the Science and Math Network as well as OUS, and is the only one of its kind in the state.

Rena Allen is the director of the Office of Teacher Professional Development at OUS. Allen said reading normally takes precedence over math in primary grades, and rightfully so.

What the conference is designed to help teachers do is incorporate what Allen calls "math thinking" into reading and writing lessons.

"Math is generally the area that children need the most help in as they reach those middle grades," Allen said. "So if we strengthen their foundation in the primary grades then it pays off when they hit fourth or fifth grade and they get into the more abstract mathematics."

First-grade teacher Carolyn Waggoner will kick off the conference with a keynote address. The Fairland veteran educator primarily wanted to be involved to show the rest of the state how great she thinks the Lawrence County teachers are.

"It showcases these marvelous teachers in our county who as far as I'm concerned, are the creme de la creme," Waggoner said. "They are veteran teachers, they are tried and true, and they are going to be teaching other teachers. I'm just honored to get to be with them."

After Waggoner's keynote address, the teachers will break into workshops where they can learn what techniques are working for other instructors, and maybe how they can improve.

"The purpose of the conference is for primary teachers to come away with ideas for implementing best practice instruction in their classrooms," Allen said.

Many of the classes will be taught by the Lawrence County educators Waggoner is so proud of, which may mean more than they know.

"When you're a teacher of adults you think that you are only reaching that adult, but every time you share something that teacher can use, 25 children have the benefit of what you taught," Waggoner said.

About 100 educators representing seven different Ohio counties have enrolled for the free conference.