Only one other school in the state made a larger improvement in math scores than Mayer Elementary students did this year.
Mayer students improved their math scores 16 percent.
Earlier this month Mayer Elementary School Principal Patti Leonard attended the state math Mac-Ro Program start-up presentation from the Rodel Foundation. There, Program Administrator Michael Rivera told her that the Mayer Elementary third grade class had made an almost unheard of jump in their AIMS math scores.
In 2007, 62 percent of the students met or exceeded AIMS math standards. In 2008 the students improved their scores 16 percent. with 78 percent meeting or exceeding the AIMS standards.
Leonard awarded third grade teachers Grant Hendrikse and Lauren Merfeld the Rodel Ball, a symbolic baseball from the Rodel Foundation, for Mayer Elementary's increase in scores. The teachers will display the baseball in their classrooms as a sign of achievement. (It is currently on display in the front office at the elementary school).
The two teachers said they were very excited about their students' achievement. Class structure helped improve the scores, said third grade teacher Grant Hendrikse.
"We have four lessons a week and a test every Friday. We also have quizzes every day, and if the students don't do well they don't go to recess," he said.
Hendrikse said he pushes his students to learn and gives them higher levels of work to prepare them for the fourth and fifth grade.
"They really respond," said Hendrikse. "They're good like that. They rise to the occasion and see learning as a personal accomplishment."
Lauren Merfeld is also very proud of the students.
"The kids worked really hard and we did too. We teach to the Mac-Ro standards and the format is the same as the AIMS test," she said. "The kids get used to the format of short assignment and they really did very well."
The teachers agree that when teaching math the students are more interested and excited when it's relevant to them on a more personal level.
"I use stories from movies like (Disney's) Wall-E and Cars to relate the problems to the kids," said Hendrikse. "It also helps to have a positive relationship with the kids and living in the community really helps, they see you around town and can relate."
Merfeld said she feels the same way.
"I relate the story problems to their lives and what they're interested in," she said. "I use their names and movies they've seen to really get them involved."
The two also agreed that repetition is important.
"We test them from lessons they were taught two or three months ago to make sure they still know the material," said Hendrikse. "We go over it and over it and over it and review the kids on all the material covered."
Lauren Merfeld attended Viterbo University in Wisconsin before moving to Mayer in July 2007. She taught third grade her first year in Mayer and is currently teaching second grade.
Grant Hendrikse attended Indiana Westlane University in Indiana before moving to Mayer in August 2007.
"I moved here the day before in-service, that's when I became an official 'M-towner,'" he said.