The ingenious way one Mentor school teacher is helping her students appreciate the everyday use of math


By Mimi Vanderhaven

Mimi vividly recalls sitting in eighth grade algebra with a pencil stuck in her pink hat thinking to herself, “I will never need any of this!”

For anyone who has ever felt likewise, Angie Laurie, an eighth-grade math teacher at Shore Middle School in Mentor, would strongly disagree.

Through her novel program—Laurie’s Legacies—she reached out to former students in a variety of real-world careers and asked them to send video clips explaining their job and how math is an integral part of it.

From firefighters and surgeons to software engineers, dermatologists, CEOs and a CNN analyst/reporter, the videos transport students to eclectic job sites such as a surgical operating room or an ambulance.

“I wanted my students to see that all these professionals do use math,” says Angie.

Here’s how it started. Several years ago, she had a couple students who wanted to work at NASA, so she showed some short clips and the students enjoyed it. She thought she’d try another the following Friday. Last summer she decided to expand it and sought out instructional coach Anna Pavkov to help formulate how Laurie’s Legacies would work. Students filled out questionnaires about jobs that interested them and came up with questions.

Then Angie went searching through old yearbooks for students and connected with them via social media to invite them to participate.

The response was amazing, and clips started pouring in. Now every Friday, students can’t wait to see which career they’ll hear about next and how math is involved in it.

This project has planted a seed in her students as they realize it’s never too early to decide which path to take to find a career they’ll one day love.

The Mentor School system educates 7,400 students from pre-K to 12th grade in seven elementary schools, three middle schools, one high school and one school for students with autism.