Meet Emanuel Avila (he/him), an 8th-grade student at Hollenbeck Middle School. We connected to discuss how his math teacher’s instructional approach influenced his newfound appreciation for the subject. Read more below.

Initially, math did not captivate Emanuel’s interest. He preferred his English classes and was interested in refining his writing skills. That began to change this school year when he was placed in the Algebra I class of Ms. Maria Ortiz, a teacher whose enthusiasm and innovative problem-solving techniques fostered his curiosity.

“Math is not only about numbers and is not boring for me anymore,” he said. 

Emanuel attributes this realization to Ms. Ortiz’ ability to connect math problems to real-world situations. By showing how math concepts work in real-life situations, Ms. Ortiz enabled him to visualize problems more clearly and approach them with renewed confidence. Her method not only made math more accessible but also empowered Emanuel to find creative solutions and develop a deeper understanding of the subject. 

Driven by his newfound appreciation for math, Emanuel joined Hollenbeck’s math club, which meets on Mondays. Students use various strategies to solve complex multistep word problems and dedicate their time to preparing for math competitions. Every week, he eagerly anticipates the meetings for a chance to tackle new challenges and enjoy the company of friends as they solve math puzzles together.

Math, along with his caregiving experience for his grandmother, now inspires Emanuel to pursue a career in medicine. He understands that math plays a crucial role in caring for patients and looks forward to learning more about math-informed medical decisions.