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I'm posting this at the request of a potential student's parent. It is a word-for-word copy of the original. ----------------------- Dear Educator: 3/11/09 Elwood (“Woody”) has requested that I write a recommendation for him; and I am very happy to do so. I was acquainted with him during the 2005-'06 school year, when he was doing the most challenging job on the planet: substitute-teaching in middle school! I must say, he performed his duties with grace and distinction all around the building wherever he was needed. Needless to say, Woody had to call on all his reserves of patience, ingenuity, and skill in a range of different ways, whether he was a teacher of science, history, literature, or math on any given day. In my case, he had to respond to a self-contained class of four sixth- and seventh-graders with a range of learning issues and disabilities, including cognitive delays, Tourette syndrome, FSH muscular dystrophy, and emotional/behavioral challenges.... read more

I am posting this letter of recommendation at the request of a potential student's parent. It is a word-for-word copy of the original. ------------------------ To Whom it May Concern: I am writing this letter concerning Woody G, who during the 2009-2010 school year has worked as an Apprentice Math Coach in my 7th Grade Mathematics classroom. This school year Woody has worked at the North Central Charter Essential School in Fitchburg, Massachusetts as a volunteer with the Commonwealth Corps. of Massachusetts. Woody has been a regular presence in a class section of Pre Algebra that includes many students who struggle conceptually with mathematics, and who also struggle with classroom behavior. Woody has a patient and calm demeanor when working with these students; he has proven himself to be committed to knowing students well, curious about the teaching process, creative in his methods of adapting instruction to suit student needs, and particularly attentive to the... read more

I'm posting this letter of recommendation at the request of a potential student's parent. It is a word-for-word copy of the original. --------------- To Whom It May Concern, I am writing to recommend Elwood G. for the math and physics teacher position at your school. Elwood served in my math classroom, and in others, as a Commonwealth Core volunteer. As a teacher of eight years, and as the Math and Science Co-Chair, I am impressed with the passion that he approached the job and appreciated his deep understanding of math. He exhibited a desire for our students to truly understand concepts, not just solve problems correctly, and his patience with and dedication to these students was admirable. "Woody", as he has become known to me and the NCCES community, has shown himself to be committed to our students' success in many ways outside the classroom as well. He volunteered much more time than was required; was instrumental in the creation of a mural in the... read more

This is a professional letter of recommendation for me, by the Director of Special Needs at North Central Charter Essential School. It is posted here, word-for-word, at the request of a potential student's parent. ---------------------------- March, 2010 To Whom It May Concern: This letter serves as a letter of professional reference for Mr. Elwood G. I have known Elwood, since December 2009, when he started volunteering as a member of the Massachusetts Commonwealth Corps at North Central Charter Essential School. I have observed Elwood working directly with a high school student who has moderate to severe cognitive and physical challenges. The student required one-on-one support in preparation for the 10th grade MCAS science assessment as well as extensive support for the student’s senior project research and writing. Elwood was asked to support this student for two hours each day and work under my and a science teacher’s direct supervision. I observed Elwood... read more

When I was a grad student in Math at Wesleyan U. I hung around the Computing Center a fair amount. That was my hobby. Not hanging out - being a computer heavy. Not a hacker, because there was no internet in those days and we weren't interested in messing things up. We wanted to make fun stuff work. The computer was a Dec System 10, or PDP-10, and had a lot of guts, a lot of power, for those days. It handled about 12 simultaneous video terminals, plus a lot of University business software at the same time. Unfortunately at the time these were "dumb" computer terminals: you could only type on them. No graphics at all. White on black background. One part of the interesting "guts" was a, for then, very unusual, new, CRT. A tube you could draw pictures on. If, and only if, you had the time, energy, and know-how, to figure out how. I'd had a smaller version of that type of CRT when I'd been an undergrad, at The U. of Rochester Cyclotron Lab. I... read more

After getting my BA (Math and Physics double major) I went to grad school in Physics at U. Illinois Urbana. If I had the choice over again, I'd have gone almost anyplace else. My source of income was a half-time teaching assistant, in Freshman Physics Recitation and Lab, mostly teaching Engineering Students. There happened to be a room available at the local chapter of my fraternity. In that case, too, if I had to choose over again, I'd have lived almost anywhere else. The students' minds were far from being on academics. But the Local Fraternity Alumni heard about my request to live at the Frat, and my status as a grad student. Would I consider a free room, if I'd spend say an hour a day as Chapter Academic Advisor? Sure. Almost nobody was interested in even setting quiet hours for study time. There were, however, two students taking introductory Physics. They both came to me asking for help on planning a project for their class, that counted for much of the... read more

As a substitute teacher, I spent many days over a two year period teaching a self-contained class of four sixth- and seventh-graders with a range of learning issues and disabilities. The course was called Life Skills Class. Students had several disabilities, including Aspergers Syndrome, cognitive delays, Tourette syndrome, FSH muscular dystrophy, and emotional/behavioral challenges. As the substitute of choice, I was called in on the first day of school for the second year. The brief story here is about wiffle ball. In the spring of my second year with this group, the teacher had purchased a wiffle ball and small bat for the class. He used it as a class reward for getting the day's work done. You have to picture this: Outside on a diamond that I'd shrunk by half from the usual middle school small size, we have four handicapped students. One is a girl who can barely walk. One is a boy with Aspergers, who is very intense but doesn't take direction well. Two others with... read more

My fiancee was a year behind me in college at the same school. She had problems in Math and any application of it: seeing numbers on the page scared her. So her first and only failing grade was in first semester Chemistry. Unfortunately for her, she was required to take two semesters of general Chemistry for her BSN Nursing Major. Summer school time came around. As I happened to have a job programming a computer at the Physics Department over the summer, I had a couple of hours now and then to tutor her in Chem. The first rule of tutoring is: what does the student REALLY need that he/she doesn't know? and the second rule is: what is the easiest and fastest way to teach that to him/her? In my fiancee's case: * She needed to recognize what TYPE of problem she was expected to solve, for example, "this is an equation balancing problem", and "this is a REDOX reaction", and "this problem produces a solute", and then how to do each TYPE... read more

When we were about to start the unit on Electricity and Magnetism, the teacher said "Would you like to teach the unit? I'm sure you know more about it that I do." I agreed, and he handed me the chalk to begin lecturing. This was long before the era of cell phones, personal pagers, and just about when transistor radios had become popular. As an Amateur Radio Operator, and before, I'd studied radio communication and radar since about age 11. I had my first license to communicate with other Amateurs at age 12. This was a popular hobby, and the Physics teacher knew there were several Amateurs in school in years before me, two in my own graduating class, and one in the class after me. So, he had the chance to take a break for a few days in class. He sat down while I taught: We had already had the unit on static electric charges, electric current, and electromagnets. So I picked up with electromagnetic waves 1. Electricity, magnetism, and electromagnetic... read more

When I was a College Freshman, I was taking my last semester of German Language Lab from a Linguistics Grad Student. While talking about who we were and what we did, I mentioned learning Fortran in High School. He had a major Linguistics paper to write, in a hurry, and it appeared to be suitable for computer assistance. Problem: he didn't know how to program. So I offered to tutor him, a teacher at least 4 years older than myself. We negotiated a fixed charge for my tutoring, now worth about $160. I said I'd figure out how to do it with him, and show him enough Fortran to do the project and print out the results, guaranteed. This was a long time ago, long, long before computers could understand enough English to answer phones, or splice together recorded words and so on to even speak a telephone number for Directory Assistance. So although what the Grad Student actually did may sound trivial by today's standards, it wasn't then: it was a first step in a very long... read more

Last year I was an Academic Coach at North Central Charter Essential School (NCCES) in Fitchburg MA. One of the duties I had was to tutor individual students in 7th grade Algebra 1. I worked with students having difficulty in both understanding Math concepts and doing daily work. Examples of this were: * proportion projects, such as map reading, and * a project where students made different sized cubes, rectangular solids, and cylinders, to understand surface areas and volumes. I spend time motivating students, so they find out how they will use the things they are learning in later life. Concepts in Math in are often far removed from ANY realistic use, much less uses that most people might find in later life. A student of mine in Algebra 1 was constantly complaining about this: why learn all this stuff when you will never use it? I asked her: what did she want to do after school? Be a veterinarian. Then I arranged with her Advisor, and indirectly with her... read more

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