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While youngsters are kicking off the new school year, teachers are preparing to make learning fun

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Math teachers can factor in a sense of humor, too. That’s why Amanda Cosner, an academic coach at Brookhaven Elementary School who teaches that subject, multiplied some appreciative chuckles Tuesday evening among members of the Monongalia County Board of Education.

The BOE took the occasion of the first day of the new school year to discuss an old challenge: Math.

Specifically, how to actually enjoy the subject. Data abounded in the PowerPoint presented by Cosner and a group of math professionals from the district. Then, Cosner’s punch-line slide popped: It was a “Family Circus”-type cartoon, single-panel, featuring a youngster informing his father about his day at school. In the cartoon, the kid told his dad that while he probably remembered 20 percent of what he learned in school, he definitely forgot the other 90 percent.

It’s just as much about mindsets as it is number-sets, Cosner said. For example, she said, there’s no such thing as a “math person.” And the word, “yet,” she said, carries the heaviest word in the math lexicon: As in, “I don’t know how to do this equation … yet.”

Extensive data-mining components of the state Department of Education’s integrated math curriculum that’s going into its third academic year will hone it down more, Cosner said. The program enables teachers to see — digitally and in real-time — if a student is struggling during a problem.

Mon’s initial inroads can be found online at

That’s the link to the state Department of Education’s “West Virginia Schools Balanced Scorecard” for academic year 2017-18. Every public school in Mon either met or “partially met” math benchmarks, set by the scorecard. It was pretty tough terrain before, Mon Schools Chief Eddie Campbell Jr. said, because the standards kept shifting before.

“I’ve been a superintendent in West Virginia for seven years,” Campbell said, “and this is the fourth assessment I’ve been through.”

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Donna Talerico showed a quick photo collage of the first morning of school. Hugs and high-fives abound in the photographs.

“Never gets old,” she said.