Donation assists with math instruction at Academy

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The Whitefish Freemason Lodge 64 is bringing a new type of problem solving-based math to students at the Whitefish Christian Academy.

The Freemason Lodge is providing grant money to train instructors to teach Math in Focus, a Singapore Math-based curriculum.

Singapore-Math focuses most on problem solving practices using a logical and comprehensive understanding-based approach, according to Kris Jones, Math and Upper School Coordinator at WCA.

“Singapore Math is more focused on mastery and understanding of a concept before moving on,” Jones said. “It’s very hands-on. So first they deal with that concept with objects before they even know the correct way to solve a problem. Over the process they start to refine it by drawing it with pictures and lastly they move to that abstract, which they then use to solve those kinds of problems in the future.”

To start, the Freemason Lodge is providing a grant of more than $5,000 to bring in an educator to train WCA teachers over two days in June. The program is planned to be used in kindergarten through second grade starting next school year, and each year the academy will add another grade to the curriculum.

“The goal would be that in a process of five years, all of the K-8 will be using this material,” Jones said.

James Blystone, Master Mason in Whitefish, said the logical approach of the curriculum makes the Freemason Lodge excited about bringing it to Whitefish.

“We’re excited about Singapore Math just for the fact it’s proven. It’s worked well, and we love the fact that it’s all about logic and comprehensive understanding,” Blystone said. “It gives students the ability to properly problem solve and to think through why they’re getting to the answer versus just what the answer is.”

In addition, Blystone said the hope is that by training WCA teachers in this curriculum, other interested schools and educators in the Valley can come to WCA and see the program in action.

“We are just excited to be able to bring it and offer it to the entire Flathead Valley and any teachers or educators that want to be a part of it, and we’re leveraging the teachers and educators at Whitefish Christian Academy to kind of be the stewards of it,” he said.

Jones said she’s excited for WCA teachers to have the opportunity to help bring this math to this generation of students.

“If this is a great way to teach kids to be problem solvers, which is a skill that I would say is somewhat neglected in this generation, we would want it for all kids in the Flathead Valley and ultimately the country,” Jones said. “We want to be able to use the gift that we have been given from the Freemasons and support other schools that would want to implement a similar, Singapore Math-based program. A lot of different schools have played that role for us, so we want to play that role for others.”

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