SACRAMENTO, CA - When the bell rings, students in Carolyn Orr's class know it's time to get down to business.
Orr, who teaches calculus, pre-calculus and algebra at Valley High School in Sacramento, immediately launches into the day's lesson.
"They know where they're supposed to be and they know what we're going to do," Orr explained.
Students immediately start working although Orr explains not all of them have always been good with numbers.
"At lot of kids have struggled but once they come to me, I have a high success rate with them," Orr said. "It's because I start at their level. I don't start ten steps ahead of them."
It's not long before her students are dealing with problems with a greater degree of difficulty. She constantly encourages them and discovered an easy way to get them motivated.
Without attaching any names to the information, she tells her classes how many students have D's and F's.
"When last year started, I had about 30 students with failing grades," Orr said. "First we got rid of the F's then we went to work on the D's. I think we only had five D's at the end of last year."
Orr said many parents can't help their children with their homework, so she has them complete homework assignments in class.
"Kids have an opportunity to work in legs, talk to each other and explain to each other about it," Orr said.
Of course she steps in with an explanation if kids get stuck on a problem. She also offers after-school tutoring.
"It's not just about math tutoring," Orr explained. "Sometimes its about helping kids with their personal statements to get into college. It's more like life-building tutoring."
Orr points out she's also teaching students to be responsible and to reach for higher heights.
"Being sucessful comes from within," Orr said. "I want them to find out that their motivation to do well in this class can relate to everything they do."
By Karen Massie, firstname.lastname@example.org