It adds up: Ryan Road Elementary’s math recovery specialist Beth Brady earns national teacher award

  • Beth Brady, center, a teacher and math recovery specialist for the Northampton Public Schools, is pictured with teachers and administration at R.K. Finn Ryan Road Elementary School in Florence. Brady has been named a national math recovery educator for the 2020-2021 school year by the US Math Recovery Council. Photo courtesy of Brady

  • Beth Brady has been named a national math recovery educator for the 2020-2021 school year by the US Math Recovery Council. Photo courtesy of beth Brady

Staff Writer
Published: 11/12/2020 12:28:56 PM

This past summer, Beth Brady was spending time with family when she received an unusual phone call from her smart watch. At first, the call didn’t add up — she’d just been named U.S. Math Recovery educator for the 2020-2021 school year, an honor that only a single teacher across the country receives every year.

“It was really shocking because I didn’t expect it,” says Brady, who has been teaching in the Northampton Public Schools since 1992 as a classroom teacher and math intervention specialist. “I’m just me. I’m just a teacher in a district doing what I do. I feel like everyday I’m learning more. I don’t feel like I know everything. I’m still seeking further professional development and seeking answers to questions when I have a question and I don’t have an answer.”

Brady is head teacher at R.K. Finn Ryan Road Elementary School and math chair for the district’s math recovery interventionist program. Math recovery, which comes with a professional development certification, focuses on mathematics instruction for individual student learning to help guide each student’s growth in math.

R.K. Finn Ryan Road Principal Sarah Madden describes Brady as a mathematical leader who “teaches with conviction” and makes sure that all students can expand their mathematical thinking and reasoning skills.

“She has high expectations for her students and for herself, and it is clear that the business of learning is paramount,” Madden says. “She motivates learning through her enthusiasm and perseverance.”

The 28-year teacher plays a critical role in facilitating professional development for teachers and paraprofessionals across the district.

“She takes her mathematical knowledge and wisdom to a higher level and really tries to figure out how to affect the community as positively as possible,” Madden says.

The criteria for the national award given by the US Math Recovery Council, a nonprofit dedicated to overseeing and managing Math Recovery programs and education in the United States, include that math educators have five or more years of distinguished service, list areas of distinction through teaching and learning and have involvement in the Math Recovery programs, according to the organization’s website.

In 2016, Brady completed her Math Recovery Champion training, which allowed her to teach math recovery courses. Since then she’s trained about 75% of teachers in the district in math recovery in grades K through 5. This first course entails early addition and subtraction, counting and number sequences.

“We’re the champions for the kids in the classroom to make sure that the kid’s voices are heard,” she noted.

The next step is to have teachers in the district learn a second level of math recovery that focuses on “later addition and subtraction, multiplication and division and place value,” Brady said.

For Brady, it’s exciting for her and other math educators to witness “light bulb moments” in students where they develop cognitive shifts in how they view numbers and math problems.

“For instance, when kids start to learn about numbers, of course they’re counting by ones, so everything is unitary,” she explained. “Every item is in singles, sort of. And then they start to realize that, ‘Well, what a minute? If I count nine of something, then I know it’s nine and I don’t need to keep counting.’ And then they start to realize that, ‘I don’t need to count everything by ones. I can start with nine and then add on the rest.’”

Brady said the goal in teaching mathematics as a math recovery intervention specialist is to have the students make breakthroughs on their own or in groups, while giving them the guidance they need to succeed.

“Not only are we looking for cognitive shifts in students that we teach, but amongst each other they can help each other have cognitive shifts because they’re talking about the math,” she says. “It’s more difficult in the online format. It’s more difficult to have the side conversations about the math, but we’re still making it happen.”

Brady views the award from the US Math Recovery Council as an honor not just for herself, but for Ryan Road school and the Northampton district.

Chris Goudreau can be reached at cgoudreau@gazettenet.com.


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