Spokane superintendent takes a turn at teaching
Thu., March 7, 2013
Spokane Public Schools Superintendent Shelley Redinger leads an Algebra II class at Rogers High School on Wednesday. From left are students Naomi McNeil, Jessie Hegar and Jacob Burger. Redinger spent the school day substituting for a math teacher. (Dan Pelle)
Five advanced math classes at Rogers High School plus one superintendent plus 100 curious students Wednesday equaled the square root of an interesting day for all.
“Tell me if I say your name correctly,” said Spokane Public Schools Superintendent Shelley Redinger as she took attendance in an Algebra II class. “I want to get your name right.”
Six district employees won the chance to have the superintendent work for them for a day during a drawing last year.
The math class at Rogers was Redinger’s first such outing as a substitute in the district, and she worked the full school day. She’ll also be substituting in high school chemistry, kindergarten and special education classes.
“It gives me a chance to actually see what our teachers are doing, walk in their shoes for the day,” Redinger said. “Does the technology in the classroom work? Do the students have enough calculators? Are any lights burned out? What’s the temperature of the room?”
She added, “It also gets me back to remembering what the students do.”
On Wednesday, the class was playing math Jeopardy. Students picked from one of six categories, and Redinger read the question to students, who were working in groups of three.
“Roly Poly is the category: Tell why an odd degree polynomial has at least one real root,” Redinger read. Edward Marx, the student who picked the category, asked: “Can I change the question?”
Math is not Redinger’s area of expertise, and Algebra II is not an easy class; it brought one student to tears as the teens played the game. So Redinger was grateful to have a math teacher on standby with her in the class.
“It’s good she’s here to help when they have problems,” said Redinger, who roamed around the class while students worked through problems, encouraged kids to keep trying despite frustration and selected students to pick the next category – paying special attention to the less vocal ones in the group.
The students seemed at ease with the district’s top leader, perhaps since they’d been told she’d be there.
“They warned both of us to be good,” said Jessie Hegar about himself and his friend, Jacob Burger.
“I thought she’d be mean and strict,” said Burger, 15. “She’s cool. She’s nice.
“And she just asked us where the nearest drinking fountain was because she’s thirsty.”
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