Student Tackles Trio of Math Classes in One Semester
Jackson County resident Miranda King harbors little affection for mathematics, but her determination and hard work, coupled with a redesigned and more student-centered format for delivering developmental math courses at Athens Technical College enabled Ms. King to sail successfully through all three of the learning support math classes at the college in one semester.
Ms. King broke new ground with her academic performance, said Jill Ayers, adjunct Math instructor who taught the developmental courses to Ms. King.
“This achievement is significant because it has never been accomplished before, but it demonstrates that with hard work, it can be done,” Ms. Ayers said.
Learning support classes serve students who are not prepared for core curriculum courses and need additional work in particular subjects such as math, reading and English. For many students, developmental courses — also referred to as learning support — courses can be challenging and even an obstacle to continuing with college, statistics show.
The learning support math courses presented a challenge for Ms. King who had dabbled with college-level Algebra only briefly during a year-and-a-half stint with the U.S. Air Force at a base in Oklahoma. She was released from the Air Force early due to her pregnancy, and she and her husband Robbie King, and their family moved back to Jackson County. That was in March, 2012, and she became a stay-at-home mom for their children. So when she enrolled in Athens Technical College for the 2013 spring semester, nearly three years had passed since her last high school math classes. She scored slightly below the acceptable score in Math on the Compass test, requiring her to take the learning support classes. Tackling three math courses wasn’t on her agenda.
“I had not planned on taking all three (developmental math courses), but when I got through MATH 0097 so quickly, I decided to pursue MATH 0098 and MATH 0099,” Ms. King said. “Ms. Ayers told me I would be the first one to do that ever, and that boosted my confidence and set me up for success. I don’t like math, but I guess I’m good at it.”
Completing her learning support coursework during the early stages of her college endeavors also allowed Ms. King to move quickly into coursework she will need for the first phase of her career dream — becoming a physical therapist assistant.
Ms. King saw first-hand what PTAs do when she helped a friend who was recovering from an injury.
“I didn’t know that’s what I wanted to do until a friend needed physical therapy, and I took him and watched,” she said. “I had a car and served as his transportation.”
That experience led her to shadow physical therapy assistants at a medical clinic.
She also likes the fact that the PTA program has a great reputation, is so competitive, and bears a great record of job placement for its graduates.
This fall semester, she should “knock out” most of her general education courses and her pre-PTA core classes. She hopes that her grades and hard academic work will earn her a spot in the PTA program next year. Looking ahead, she says that once she completes a PTA degree, she would like to find a job, but eventually, she wants to continue her education, possibly to become a physical therapist.
“Right now I want to get in and get my feet wet,” she said. “It may turn out that’s not what I want to do, but I do see myself going back to school after getting a degree and a good job.”
Completing those redesigned learning support math classes provided a big boost for Ms. King in pursuing her college goals and demonstrated her work ethics and determination, Ms. Ayers said.
“Miranda is an extremely hard worker who perseveres until her goals are met,” Ms. Ayers said. “She set a goal to finish all three learning support classes during one semester and completed that goal with flying colors.”
Athens Technical College faculty and staff redesigned the learning support math courses as part of several initiatives — Achieving the Dream, Complete College America, and Complete College Georgia —they have been undertaking the past two years to improve student success. Math classes were developed in a modular format that empowers students to move at their own speed, and allows instructors to focus on challenges specific to individual students.
“I just feel like it set me up for success to be able to do those math classes at my own pace,” Ms. King said about the math classes. “And to know I would be able to do that, it built my confidence.”
Ms. Ayers agreed.
“Miranda pushed to complete the classes, while still having a full load of other classes and a family with small children.” Ms. Ayers said. “She had the determination to work hard to complete all assignments, in part for her family and for herself. She is an exceptional student who is driven to succeed and I am confident she will excel in school, and in life.”