Marilyn Weaver has been a school volunteer in West Irondequiot for 10 years. She began her service as a classroom mother, then a block parent, cultural arts organizer, third grade graduation coordinator, and finally co-chair of a two-day Outdoor Education Experience. In addition, she developed and coordinated the Reading At Home Program.
Weaver saw a need in 1995 that sparked her interest. One of the second grade teachers at Colebrook School felt that her students could benefit from being challenged beyond the regular curriculum in mathematics, but she did not know how to manage this by herself. She offered to take half of the class and provide enrichment exercises in mathematics. The teacher took on the other half and began remediation work leading to enrichment.
Through a variety of math activities and custom made exercises, students began to see that math could be fun and interesting. They discovered they could take a problem that looks hard on the surface and stretch enough in their skills to accomplish solving the problem. Weaver worked with this class for three years. Today this program is still in existence and has expanded to include another second grade class. This in-class activity has become known as the Challenger Club, and it was even extended to the third grade classes when the former second-graders expressed so much interest in it.
About a year ago, Weaver accepted the challenge of reinventing the abandoned Math Lab at Colebrook School. The students, parents, and teachers are very enthusiastic about turning it around. Once the renovation was completed, the Math Lab was a success. That resulted in more students, parents and teachers becoming interested in being involved.
What began as one volunteer helping 10 students for about 45 minutes per week has grown to include 15 parent volunteers helping about 30 students from kindergarten to third grade. Computers have been introduced to the program for students who need a faster pace to maintain their interest. Weaver has also taken on the responsibility of training the volunteers so they have an understanding of the goals, tools, and methodology of the lab.
Marilyn Weaver’s innovative spirit is evident in the materials and activities she has conceived. She has developed creative concepts to address specific instructional goals. Some of her more famous inventions are laminate, color-coded personal and class-size number lines. She designs them to help children visualize, through spatial relationships, the interrelatedness of numbers in addition, subtraction, and multiplication. The strongest indicator of the Lab’s success is the impact is has had on the student’s scores in standardized testing. Weaver’s support and efforts have resulted in the children earning better scores and doing well in other areas of study.