# My Story

My story as a math tutor began on a volleyball court in 1978. I was a volunteer coach and one night two girls weren’t at practice. When I called to find out why, they both said that progress reports had come out and their Algebra grades were too low. Their parents wouldn’t let them come play volleyball. I offered to help them with their Algebra in order to get them back on the court.

In working with them, I discovered the problem was they didn’t understand basic fractions, let alone fractions with variables involved! To pique their interest, I made up stories involving fractions that “got married”, or “divorced”. Fractions also went to “parties” and looked for “dates”. Success! They managed to raise their Algebra grades to solid Bs and were soon back on the volleyball court.

I continued developing these “silly stories” which offered a different way to think about a problem or lesson and made the concepts more approachable and even fun. Traditional teaching methods were often problematic for my oldest son, so I worked with him to make the concepts more relatable and less intimidating. When he had a hard time dealing with negative numbers we pulled out his collection of G.I. Joes and helped him understand negative numbers through “good guys/bad guys/wars”.

When my younger children were in elementary school, I volunteered to teach math to groups of students in 4th through 6th grade. The students mastered times tables, prime factoring, exponents, all aspects of fractions, decimals, percents, and negative numbers. This was one of the problems on the final exam for the 6th graders (no calculators allowed!):

{[-2(4)]² – |(-3)³| + √225} + {[-36.4+(-8.7)] – 9(-4)} • (2 5/8% of 184) + (3 7/8 + 2 1/20) =

Most importantly, they learned the concepts behind the numbers and why they worked as they did. All of the students that worked with me through 6th grade tested into Algebra as 7th graders and were successful in their math classes through high school and on to college. These students never returned to my classroom because they built a strong foundation and understanding of the basics of math.

I realized that I could help many more children by offering my services beyond just the classrooms where my own children were. So I became a full time math tutor.

I have worked with students from all levels and abilities; students that were bored with math at school because it was below their abilities and they were not being challenged; students that were having considerable difficulty with math due to various disabilities; students that just needed a ‘different approach’ to doing math.

Over 40 years, I have worked with hundreds of students and have developed the ability to personalize the learning experience to the individual’s learning style. In my math classes, we solve “drive you crazy” problems: puzzles, logic problems, hidden pictures, manipulative ‘toys’ that help students focus and look for different ways to solve problems. Students groan and roll their eyes at my “stupid stories”… but they remember the concepts and how to solve the problems. I often get stopped by former students who tell me those stories helped them in high school and college, and that they still remember how to “clean your room” or “knock knock- who’s there?”.

I would love to work with you/your student!

Sherrie Clark