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The Forest Scout

The Student News Site of Lake Forest High School

The Forest Scout

The Student News Site of Lake Forest High School

The Forest Scout

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We Need to Pay More to Help Save the MRC

The understaffed MRC cannot provide the help students need.
Stella Henretta
The understaffed MRC cannot provide the help students need.

It’s the day of your math test and you’re freaking out. You have countless unanswered questions from the study guide, and you’re lacking a firm understanding of some important concepts. You decide to attend the Math Resource Center (MRC) to resolve your questions. You enter the room and crowds of impatient students wait for their turn to be helped. You join them and, when it’s your turn, you receive inadequate responses to your questions. Frustrated, and now even less confident, you leave the MRC, feeling like you’re destined to get an F.

This feeling is more common than you might expect. Students here frequently report that they don’t receive support from the MRC that would allow them to be successful in their math classes. I am not attacking any MRC teacher in particular, nor criticizing the operation, but there is consistently a shortage of teachers who specialize in certain math levels.

I’ve attended the MRC several times with the intention of gaining a better understanding of complex topics. Yet, I always seem to leave discouraged and confused. 

The MRC has lacked in capability since the beginning of the 2022 school year, when staff began resigning for higher-paying opportunities

Now, it simply does not have staff that specializes in high-level courses surrounding calculus topics and beyond. With the intense, demanding course load of these classes, the administration needs to focus on providing in-school resources that students can rely on and access. 

LFHS – with its large budget, challenging academics, high expectations, and lofty prestige – should be motivated to provide adequate help for the challenging classes offered. 

It’s unrealistic to expect students to hire outside resources, like private tutors, to help them answer questions as this is not only inconvenient, but also an extra expense that not every family can afford.

Additionally, with declining school-wide standardized testing scores, extra assistance is immediately way to improve scores.

Students’ Responses to the MRC

Many students enrolled in pre-calculus courses and higher express similar sentiments about the MRC’s inability to support them.

“In my experience, there hasn’t always been someone who is familiar with the topics I am struggling with, which has made the MRC less of a valuable resource for me,” junior Natalie LaMartin said. “My friends and I are often forced to find other ways to better understand the material because the MRC hasn’t been the best at providing help for higher levels of math.”

 Junior Gwen Daliere says she ceased going to the MRC in 2022.

“I haven’t even been to the MRC in about a year because it has been lacking teachers to help me, which makes it pointless to go,” Daliere said.

Not only does this stunt the performance of students, but it also creates additional inconveniences – like finding other forms of help – that could otherwise be avoided. 

What is being done?

Despite my critique of the system, I appreciate the work that Dr. Jeffrey Summy – head of the Math Department – has done. Summy recognizes that the MRC has a shortage of teachers. As the primary person in charge of hiring staff, he shares the challenges faced when attempting to find candidates.

“We strive to, at a minimum, have two staff members in the MRC at all times – whether they be current teachers or alternate staff. The challenge for this role is that we are obviously looking for people with math majors or degrees. However, this pool of candidates is not very big as the number of people with these qualifications is scarce,” Summy said.

Summy sympathizes with students and understands that this poses inconveniences for them.

“Imagining myself as a student, I understand the difficulty in my study hall or free periods not aligning with when staff who specialize in my course level are in the room.”

Efforts to hire new staff have been made. Mrs. Laura Gao is now a permanent faculty member of the MRC. Still, Summy shares that it has been difficult to find additional staff.

“Professionals who have secondary mathematical degrees are rare. Local schools like Evanston, Highland Park, Deerfield, Libertyville, and more, are all fighting for the same pool of people. This makes it challenging to hire staff, as there is a high demand for people with these qualities,” Summy said.

Dr. Summy also offered an alternative form of instruction for students.

Tutor.com is an online, live-instruction tool for tutoring that is another way to be supported. I am aware that one negative to this resource is that you’re not in person, but it can be very efficient. I wouldn’t say it’s a replacement for the MRC, but it is an excellent additional tool,” Summy said.

So, What Can Further Be Done?

I highly suggest that administrators in charge of budgeting for the school set aside additional funds to pay MRC staff. 

Mrs. Monica Wertz, president of the District 115 Union Support Staff, reported that the faculty in the MRC are only paid $24 an hour. Considering the qualifications required to fill this position – and its low pay grade – candidates are less motivated to apply for the job. By raising the average hourly rate, the position will appear more enticing for potential MRC candidates and will outweigh competition from other schools. It will also reward MRC teachers for their work and effort.

To many students, the MRC is the most accessible tool for getting assistance. Budgeting staff needs to understand that ensuring students are adequately helped should be one of their top priorities. Not only will the scores of standardized tests likely increase, but students will be properly supported and their needs will be addressed. 

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About the Contributor
Stella Henretta, Staff Writer
 During the fall, junior Stella Henretta's committed to Varsity tennis, but switches gears to lacrosse during the spring. On weekends, Stella works as a coach at GLASA to help disabled athletes play tennis. She’s also a cashier at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s cafe, where she loves to take walks among the flowers after her shift. This school year, she hopes that through her cumulative experiences and knowledge, she will be successful in providing her readers with information about events happening both in and out of LFHS!
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