By Megan McGarrey
Picture this: you are a girl in elementary school. You step into your first-ever accelerated math class with excitement to start the new year, and you’re finally able to start being challenged in a subject you had never had any previous difficulty with. However, when you walk into the room, something looks… off. There are only a few girls in your class. The class is dominated by boys, and you wonder why there aren’t more girls like you that you can talk to. This scenario was the reality in the Garnet Valley accelerated math program seven years ago. With a very male-dominated scene, the girls were in the inaugural class of Mrs. Valerio’s accelerated math, designed to give mathematically gifted students a more rigorous math course that would prepare them to succeed in higher level honors or AP math courses in the future. Six of the girls from this class, now weeks away from graduating, returned back to GVES in order to encourage the children to continue improving their ability and using it to their advantage if they wish to stick to the accelerated math track throughout the remainder of their studies. Through the math mentorship program, Elena Murray, Lexi Conner, Linda Zamrowski, Kitty Rossi, Natalia Orlovsky, and Lauren Garrity were able to articulate their future plans and how math affected their choices of doing so.
The event featured 27 elementary schoolers in both fourth and fifth grade, a much higher concentration of females than there had been in the past, and featured perspectives on a diverse number of topics- the seniors talked about transitioning from school to school and how their challenging elementary school classwork prepared them for future courses, and even had insight from 2015 GV graduate Taylor Valerio, a current Penn neuroscience major. Taylor assisted in the setup of the event with her mother, Jen Valerio. The students encouraged the young girls to stick together throughout their elementary, middle, and high school experience for support and help with any issue that may challenge them.
Mrs. Valerio hopes that she can continue with the math mentorship breakfast every year in order to encourage a new generation of girls to take an interest in mathematics and advance their studies.
Featured below are pictures of the event:
Pictured above: The 6 Math Mentors and Mrs. Jen Valerio
Pictured above: The elementary students listening intently to the math mentorship talks
Pictured above: Kitty Rossi speaking to the elementary students
Pictured above: Soon-to-be Princeton student Natalia Orlovsky speaks as the girls listen intently
Pictured above and below: GVHS Math Mentors with accelerated math students