Math Partners Builds Connection Across Grades


Crossroads has long emphasized our small size as an asset; our students are able to form authentic relationships across grades to model standards of academic achievement, build community, and engage with learning in new ways.

Math Partners, where upper school students work with middle school students for extra help or an extra challenge, is an example of how our students support each other.

“We asked for a series of upper school volunteers, and now reach about half the middle school in our pairings,” says Mark Norwood, middle school math teacher, who organizes the pairs and team. “Some students need the extra help and a few are just looking for a challenge. We place an emphasis on loving math and doing challenging and interesting math. It’s delightful to watch our students together.”

Beyond the 12 pairs of Math Partners, three seniors – Blair Williams, Jude Huck-Reymond, and Maggie Hughes – coach the Math Club in the Excellence in Mathematics competition. This year, seventh grader Ronak Mohanty placed sixth place overall in the region.

In Math Partners, middle school students can be found working one-on-one with their upper school partners in their Chromebooks or on the board, reinforcing their learning through math problems from Khan Academy, Hooda Math, and Aleks.

Mark notes that not only are students creating bonds that continue in the halls of the school, the academic benefits are clear. “It’s always good to get another perspective; a math partner might approach a problem in a different way. Students choose the approach that leads to the deepest understanding for them and ideally they understand some piece of all of these approaches and then choose what rings true.”

Senior Charles Bethel has been working with a seventh grader who has had his best test scores yet since working with Charles. “I try to relate it to other topics and use metaphors as much as possible,” he says. “I remember when I was learning all this stuff, I didn’t realize is that all of them connected together so that’s what I’m trying to get him to realize.”

Upper school students are seeing school life through the lens of educators. “I had a student come up to me recently and say ‘I really respect your work!’” Mark laughs. Charles Bethel adds: “I really enjoy it; I’ve loved math my entire life and now I get to share my passion for it.”