By Allan Appel
Maurice Smalls was having trouble understanding how to simplify a radical. Karen Climis made sure he wouldn’t leave class until he figured it out.
If you haven’t simplified a radical recently, Climis’s math classroom at Common Ground High School on Wednesday morning would have been the place to be. The seven-year veteran was recently honored as one of just 31 teachers in the nation to receive a $2,500 Math Hero Award from the Raytheon Company for excellence in mathematics teaching.
The country is desperate to know what great math teaching consists of. Climis, who teaches and often team-teaches geometry, architecture, and biodiversity studies at the small environment-themed charter high school in West Rock, had more than a few thoughts on the matter. Her secret formula involves intensive one-on-one attention and a knack for applying the complex idea of mathematics to real life.