Last Week Former Laurelhurst 3rd/4th Grade Teacher Debby Halperin Receives Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Debby Halperin has waited patiently for over two years since she was nominated by Laurelhurst parents in both 2012 and 2014 for her innovative and effective teaching methods. http://recognition.paemst.org/finalist_profile/36914

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Many Laurelhurst students have benefited from Debby’s teaching style. Often she would advise many parents and teacher teams on how best to teach a classroom or individually help a student improve their math fluency.
Debby’s husband, Jeff Caden stated it best on why she deserves the award, “What does she do to deserve such an award? She begins by skillfully weaving provocative mathematical scenarios that pique the curiosity of her 3rd and 4th grade students. Her own curiosity about how one might go about solving the problem is highly infectious and before long the class is involved in a complex mathematical conversation that can last days. Debby never corrects the students as they consider and test various hypotheses, but only asks probing questions that create a wave of classroom curiosity that carries even the most disinterested students. Errors are not to be avoided but are, in fact, celebrated as critical feedback and kids feel safe considering ideas even though they may not be ‘correct’. The level of deep mathematical thinking that ensues is remarkable. Kids develop their own algorithms that correctly account for and solve the problems. She doesn’t initially teach arithmetic procedures because this inhibits the creative process that leads kids to really understand the mathematics at a deep level. Debby creates a classroom laboratory that fosters in her kids the ability to think logically and critically and most importantly, a lifelong joy of learning.”

Congrats to Debby — and to all of the kids and families that she has taught at Laurelhurst! We wish her well in her new venture at Thurgood Marshall Elementary. She will be greatly missed!