Each year, the Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics (VCTM) recognizes a classroom teacher on the elementary, middle, secondary, university and specialist levels for his or her outstanding work in the field of mathematics. Last month, Nathanael Greene Elementary School Intervention Specialist Linda Haselton was honored as the William C. Lowry Mathematics Educator of the Year at the elementary level for 2021.
“To win this award was such a surprise and honor,” Haselton said. “I especially want to thank Kim McInturff (school librarian who nominated her for the award) as well as Adam Midock (NGES Principal) and Regina Hissong (NGES Assistant Principal) for their recommendations.”
Nominees for the award must have a minimum of five years’ teaching experience and be a current classroom teacher in a math resource or specialist position. Haselton has been teaching math at NGES since 1997.
“Linda and I have been colleagues at Nathanael Greene Elementary School for the past 24 years,” McInturff said in her recommendation letter. “I have seen her educational pedagogy evolve from the time she began as a new fourth-grade teacher to her current Math Intervention Specialist position.”
“I have had the pleasure of working alongside (Haselton) for the last three of those years,” said Hissong in a recommendation letter for the award. “The level of engagement she brings to her role as a math leader in our building, coupled with her willingness to find ways of providing intervention to kindergarten to fifth-grade students, has been exemplary. She truly has a heart for teaching, supporting and building math knowledge in students and teachers alike.”
McInturff said Haselton’s enthusiasm for professional development inspired her to pursue national board certification after watching Haselton go through the process.
“Linda has a great rapport with the students, faculty and staff members and parents of the Nathanael Greene community,” she said. “She is a valuable asset to our school with all of her resources and knowledge. … Because of her attitude, kids have gained confidence, learned many math skills and become inspired to learn and do their best. She has made a difference in many students’ and teachers’ lives.”
Over the years, Haselton has created new math programs for students, designed teacher resources and mentored colleagues on how to meet individual student needs in math, according to Hissong. She served as the Vertical Math Team Chair from 2015-17, was on the School Improvement Team from 2009-18, was the Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) Team Chair from 2012-19, has been on the Building Leadership Team since 2008 and the School-Based Intervention Team since 2009. She also has served as the 504 coordinator for the school since 1997, assisting in personalizing learning plans for students with special needs.
“Linda considers herself a lifelong learner and is always sharing new tools, strategies and tricks to help solidify mathematical concepts in our students’ minds,” Hissong said. “Her solid understanding of where students are developmentally … has aided her in making a grand impact when she works with kids. In summary, Ms. Linda Haselton is a champion for individualized, relevant and scaffolded K-5 mathematical instruction that holds students to high expectations while equipping them with the necessary tools to attack the hard problems.”
According to Midock, the intervention specialist serves students across all six grade levels who are performing below their grade levels in math, specifically.
“She prides herself in getting to know her students and their needs,” he said. “In turn, she creates student-specific goals with achievable learning targets.”
Haselton has also participated in book studies and other professional development sessions while working to become a Nationally Board Certified teacher, according to Midock.
“Linda has been part of our school-based intervention team and was selected to be a member of our school leadership team. She is always one of our most dedicated members and often provides ideas that are thought-provoking and in the best interests of the students,” he said.
Midock also spoke to Haselton’s recent school-wide project called “Let’s Get Cooking,” which was funded through a VCTM grant and involved local chefs leading monthly cooking demonstrations and classes throughout the year. “This project was inclusive of all students, staff and their families and was one of the most successful school-community projects in years,” he said.
An article on the “Let’s Get Cooking” project and the 2019 Flanagan Grant has been submitted for publication in the Virginia Mathematics Teacher journal, to be printed later this year.
“I have had the opportunity to serve as Linda’s immediate supervisor for the past seven years, (during which) I have routinely witnessed Linda’s passion for teaching and learning and her dedication to her students,” Midock said. “Quite honestly, Linda is second to none.”
Haselton was also awarded Nathanael Greene’s Educator of the Year award for 2020 and has been nominated for the Raising Caine award through GCPS 41 times since 2013. She also began an after-school remediation program in 1998 that she ran for 20 years.
“This next school year will be my 25th and my last, as I will be retiring in June 2022,” Haselton said. “I never expected to be a teacher when I was in college getting a political science degree. It was when I was a Cub Scout den leader for my son and working with nine boys as they went through second grade through fifth grade that I realized I wanted to work with children; I was a career-switcher and it was the best decision I ever made.”
Haselton said she loves being the intervention teacher because she understands where her students are coming from.
“I understand my students when they say, ‘I don’t get this!’ or ‘I hate math!’ … because I was one of them in elementary school—I can honestly say I know exactly how they feel,” she said. “This challenges me to find creative, fun and concrete ways to show them the math concepts in a way they will understand. My goal every day is to encourage my students and to change their negative mathematical mindset to a positive can-do attitude. … The best day is when a student tells me that they get it now or that they love coming to my room to work with me.”
Haselton said after 24 years, she still learns something new every year from her students and fellow teachers.
“I remember on my first day in the classroom, thinking that the time I spend planning a lesson and teaching my students was time invested in something important—not a business or an organization’s success but a person’s future,” she said.
The award was presented in a virtual ceremony last month.