BY EMMA HUERTA
The fresh start to a renewed school year has already begun. The halls of the campus are full of new students, policies and even staff members.
Although students are returning from summer vacation to their usual schedules and normalcy, new teachers in the mathematics department are only beginning to make their educational impacts at the school. This year, the department added two much-needed instructors to their team: Natasha Blanch and Liam Corley.
“We had one teacher that left on maternity leave, then she just left to take care of her baby,” mathematics Department Head Alexandra Silvestri said. “And we’ve just had a growing population in Cooper City [so] we needed another teacher.”
Blanch first had her internship here at CCHS, then was promoted to being an interim substitute teacher. In between her internship and her time as a sub, she taught in the Marshall Islands, a country in the central Pacific Ocean, for six months.
“I was teaching basic math from ninth through 10th grade,” Blanch said. “But obviously they’re way behind there, so the ages ranged from 14-17.”
Corley also attained some of his teaching experience far away from Cooper City. His bilingual roots allowed him to teach Spanish in Belize for three months. Before coming down to Florida, he taught at Eminence High School and Bullitt Central High School in Kentucky.
“If it weren’t for the other math teachers, my job would be so much harder.”
While Blanch was previously working at Cooper City before she joined the mathematics department, Corley specifically sought out the school in order to work as a math teacher.
The recruitment process at CCHS is fundamental to both the school and the teachers’ success. In order to ensure that the right teachers are being hired, both the hirer and hiree must undergo long and rigorous, yet important, protocol.
This year, Blanch will be teaching Financial Algebra, Geometry and Algebra II. When dealing with in-class instructional time, she likes to use a one through five tabulation system to keep her class engaged and ensure their full comprehension of the given topic.
“I’ll do a problem and I look around and see how they’re feeling,” Blanch said. “I give them the time that they need and if we need remediation then we do that. It’s about them learning it; I don’t want to teach it just to say I taught it, but nobody understood it. I’m just patient with them, approach it in different ways and cater to different learning styles.”
Corley also uses some of his original methods to properly teach his Liberal Arts I, Liberal Arts II and Algebra I classes. Instead of guiding himself directly by other common teaching practices, he has his own conception of how to educate his students sufficiently.
“I think we have fun,” Corley said. “I know that I teach a little more different than some others because my notes are a lot, [they are] more hardcore. But, I also put a lot on the student.”
“They both have unique personalities that are different than the other teachers we have here.”
Aside from the unconventional teaching techniques used in their everyday educational environment, both Blanch and Corley like to add other unique twists in their classes. For instance, Blanch, in particular, likes to celebrate a very special mathematics holiday with her classes in quite a grand way.
“I’m looking forward to Pi Day. The whole math department– we go all out,” Blanch said. “If they [the students] want to write a short story about pi or a poem or sing a song or a rap, it’s like they’re using math but being creative and being themselves, and it’s just a really fun time in the room to see them doing that.”
Additionally, Corley likes to integrate necessary life lessons into his math curriculum. While teaching his students the actual arithmetic skills, he also manages to include these important lessons that can be applied at a wider scale outside the realm of math.
“At some point, my class is going to end, but note-taking necessarily isn’t or showing up to school on time, it’s like showing up to work on time,” said Corley. “My main rule, and really my only rule, is just to show respect. Respect yourself, respect math, respect the people around you and respect other teachers.”
The new math department members have adapted to the overall environment here on top of familiarizing themselves with the general policies at Cooper City High, including working collaboratively with fellow math teachers.
“Literally if it weren’t for the other math teachers, my job would be so much harder,” Blanch said. “They’re a really great support system, too.”
Besides working together with the rest of the department, both of the new math teachers have to work in cooperation with administration in order to ensure that school days run smoothly and that their students are able to excel at CCHS.
“We’re trying different things in the math department and it seems like it’s going to work out really well.”
“Everybody is trying to get everybody better,” said Corley. “Principal Doll has done a really good job making sure everyone is here for the right reason.”
Both Blanch and Corley are seemingly doing well teaching at their new campus, made visible by Department Head Alexandra Silvestri’s increased confidence with their success at the school.
“They both have unique personalities that are different than the other teachers we have here,” Silvestri said. “They both have a really good relationship and rapport with students.”
Because of Blanch’s previous work at CCHS, she already has close connections with several CCHS students, something she is glad to experience.
“It’s a very warm and friendly environment,” said Blanch. “I definitely feel closer with students from previous years. They always seem happy to see me, which is really nice.”
Overall, the changes to the department and the school as a whole appear to illustrate a positive effect on Cooper City’s future. Thus, they’re a cause for enthusiasm toward the upcoming academic period throughout the team.
“I’m super excited. I think it’s going to be a good school year,” Silvestri said. “Last year was really hectic, so I think that we are making changes for the better because of that. We’re trying different things in the math department and it seems like it’s going to work out really well.”
Photo by Kayla Florenco