Cimarron math teacher named Raytheon 'Math Hero'
PARKER – When you visit Kim Kehr’s school website, it’s easy to see what subject she is most passionate about., because her page reads, “Math, the only subject that counts” in big bold letters. It’s this passion for arithmetic that has earned the Cimarron Middle School eighth-grade teacher Raytheon’s Math Hero Award.
“I am honored to walk into a classroom and have parents allow me to teach their children. I appreciate parents that trust us everyday to do that for them,” Kehr said humbly.
As part of its MathMovesU program, Raytheon honors effective math teachers, math coaches or math event coordinators who not only go out of their way to help students learn math, but find ways to instill a love for the subject.
Before becoming a teacher, Kehr was an aeronautical engineer for the Air Force. She often uses real world examples, often from her own life, to ensure students understand the real world applications to the math problems they’re using.
“What makes me different is they know I love it because I’m always excited. My engineering background just allows me to think of different ways to teach it when kids are struggling,” she explained.
The company looks for those math instructors that are dedicated to improving math education and student participation. In Kehr’s class she believes it is the interaction between her and the students that makes kids want to explore the subject more.
“I think there’s this back and forth between student and teacher—sharing a way to think about something and sharing what makes it exciting,” she said. [The students] also bring new ideas to me every year. They’ll say ‘what about this?’ And then I’ll say ‘oh my gosh! That is a different way to look at it.’
Kehr realizes that middle school students often come to the classroom with negative feelings towards math, but she hopes to change their outlook. She asserts the importance of the problem solving and critical thinking skills that math teaches.
“I always tell my kids ‘we all have our passion. Math may not be yours, but you do need it,’” she said. “Don’t close any doors because you never know what you’re going to do.”
Kehr is among nearly 30 Math Heroes who will be honored this year, primarily in the eight states where Raytheon is located, including Colorado. She will receive a $2,500 grant and Cimarron Middle School will receive a matching grant in the same amount.
The Math Heroes have the opportunity to direct how the funds are spent. Kehr and her team are thinking about using it to enhance their classrooms with iPads, clickers, and other tech tools to enhance the use of a SMART Board that is already installed.
Learn more about the MathMovesU Math Hero program at http://www.mathmovesu.com/#/home.