Teacher Appreciation Week: Michelle Mariano, Lincoln

     Published on 5/4/16   Tagged under:    District News    Lincoln Middle School   

As an eighth grade math teacher at Lincoln Middle School, Michelle Mariano is supposed to teach students about linear equations, transformations, exponents and congruents—among other things.
And as it turns out, eighth grade students aren’t particularly interested in these things.
“Some kids will come in at the beginning of the year and say, ‘I just hate math!’” she explained. “I tell them, ‘I don’t need you to love it—I just need you to get through it with me.’”
A former accountant, who made the change to teaching two years ago, Ms. Mariano decided that perhaps drawing on real world experiences would help students become interested in and engaged with the material.
“By providing more context for them, it makes it more meaningful to them and helps them develop a greater understanding,” she explained.
In advance of a school field trip to Darien Lake, she created a lesson plan about admission prices. Incorporating the school’s gym teachers, she once fabricated a scenario in which each of the teachers was offering a gym membership—and given different factors, students were left to decide which teacher’s gym they would join. She has even invited other content teachers to visit her classroom, asking them to attempt to solve problems that the students have been learning about.
“The students love that,” she said. “They get so excited telling their teachers what they are doing wrong and explaining the correct process they have learned to solve the problem.”
It is this creative mindset that led to Ms. Mariano’s nomination as an outstanding teacher.
“Our scholars say how much she gets on them simply because she has high expectations and is relentless about those expectations,” Principal LaJuan White said. “In Ms. Mariano’s classroom, you hear math, you feel math and you breathe math. She ensures that students understand both the process of solving a problem, as well as the concept behind the problem. She is truly a student advocate who believes that all scholars are able to succeed.”
While only in her second year teaching at Lincoln, Ms. Mariano also works with struggling students privately in her off periods to help catch them up to their classmates. This year, she has even begun making some home visits. She said these experiences have helped her grow to love her job even more.
“Our students have such diverse backgrounds and I’ve learned so much from them,” she said. “They’re very spirited… they have so much energy! They’re not afraid to be themselves and to tell it like it is. It’s wonderful. I like to think about where they will be in five years—the growth they will see. And that makes me want to keep growing and learning as a teacher.”
Thank you, Ms. Mariano, for your commitment to Lincoln students!