kentwood — Teaching math at the state’s most diverse high school was the impetus for Luke Wilcox and Lindsay Gallas to launch three open source math curriculum websites and the brand new Math Medic Foundation.
“This was very much influenced by my (and Gallas’) work at East Kentwood High School,” said Wilcox, who teaches AP statistics there. “We found that some students have many more advantages than other students. These disadvantaged students need support.”
They came together to launch free online math education websites to close the achievement gap and increase access to resources both nationally and locally, including among their own students. You founded Stats Medic seven years ago; Calc Medic three years ago; and in August expanded their efforts to bring Math Medic to market. The latest website offers free lesson plans – designed and tested with real East Kentwood students – for all 9-12 high school math courses. These include algebra 1 and 2, geometry, and precalculus.
“Math Medic was our big step into the big world of math teaching, instead of just AP Calc and AP Statistics,” said Wilcox. “We’re already starting to build a nice community of teachers using the resources.”
To further strengthen their mission, the teachers officially launched the philanthropic portion of their effort this month. The Math Medic Foundation is a public charity focused on providing funds to students and educators in K-12 math education.
“My number one goal was just to have the ability to provide resources to students. The Math Medic Foundation will help us with that.”
– Lindsay Gallas, co-founder of Math Medic
The foundation is funded entirely by tax-deductible donations, which can be made through the website. Executive Director Pete Grostic, a former middle and high school teacher at Kentwood Public Schools, said 100 percent of individual donations go toward scholarships and teacher and school grants.
Students can apply for scholarships; Teachers can apply for grants to fund professional development opportunities; and schools as a whole can apply for resource grants.
Reach students who need it most
Achievement gaps in mathematics are striking and pervasive. The overall goal of the foundation and instructional sites is to improve outcomes, Wilcox said.
“In terms of math instruction, the results are not the same for certain subgroups,” he said. “African American, Hispanic, low-income (college students), and English-speaking learners are not at the same level as White and Asian cultures. We know that this has nothing to do with biology, but mostly stems from lack of access to resources, and it is the lack of resources that actually causes the performance gap.
“We want to try to influence that side of the equation: the connection to resources. We believe that if we can balance access to resources, we will see changes in performance gap outcomes.”
Last spring, through the Stats Medic website, the group awarded two scholarships to undergraduate math students. One went to Jacobi Thompson, a 2021 graduate of East Kentwood High School who is studying computer science at Grand Valley State University, and the other to Isabella Medina-Silva, a graduate student in California. Now that the foundation has been launched, they will award at least two more $2,000 grants this spring.
“In line with our idea of equity in mathematics education, we want students to have access to resources, but we also want teachers to have access to quality teaching materials.”
— Luke Wilcox, East Kentwood math teacher and co-founder of Math Medic
Gallas, who taught AP stats in East Kentwood for seven years, now works full-time for Math Medic. She said the need to support students is evident in her classroom.
“I’ve seen students do their best, but tuition and expenses would be a hindrance,” she said. “My number one goal was just to have the ability to provide resources to students. The Math Medic Foundation will help us with that.”
teachers’ lesson plans
On Calc Medic, Stats Medic, and Math Medic, lesson plans are provided for each day of the school year for each class. “All of our lessons are student-centered and activity-based,” Wilcox said.
Gallas, Wilcox and Sarah Stecher, a former calculus teacher in East Kentwood, designed all the lessons. They also blog about teaching tips based on their experiences with teaching.
The sites and the foundation all support improving math education, Wilcox explained.
“Making our classes free aligns with this idea of equality because it doesn’t matter what school district you’re from or how much money your school district has for the curriculum, any teacher on the internet can access the classes and use them use their classroom.
“We want teachers to have access to these quality lessons, which ultimately benefits their students,” he added. “It’s consistent with connecting resources to students who need them most.”