By Theresa Carroll
When students arrive in Deb Brough’s classroom, they are greeted with a smile from a teacher who knows how to deliver content so students understand. Brough invites them to find a comfortable seat, and they get to work on the lesson or skill they were introduced to in their homework. She works through problems with them, encourages them and reteaches when necessary. She speaks the language of math and helps her students speak it, too.
Brough is the middle school math teacher at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School in Fort Wayne. Her students, former students and others in the city recently voted her the No. 1 middle school teacher for 2021 in the Fort Wayne Newspapers Readers’ Choice contest.
She makes math easy to understand and expects students to do their best on each task. When asked about her favorite part of her job, Brough said, “I love to teach algebra concepts, but my favorite part is when the lightbulb goes off and they know they ‘got it’.”
She shared how algebra is like a puzzle; a person moves this piece over here and that piece over there and it all fits together. Her flipped class enables students to excel by watching a video for homework and practicing the skills with her at school.
Former student Abby Spoltman had this to say: “Mrs. Brough made math easier through a flipped classroom. Algebra came easier to me after a lot of in-class practice, and she helped me through every step of the way.”
Brough said she loves it when a student starts to ask a question, continues to work the problem and then figures out the solution. Her students give her energy. She credits her father with encouraging her to get a math license besides her elementary teaching license; she is grateful, because she loves her middle school students.
Brough works closely with the No. 1 middle school teacher from 2020, Jodi Jump. Jump teaches science at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School.
“I have loved the “ah-ha” moments, when a student understands a concept or has struggled, and you connect them with an example and their eyes light up. I have witnessed many of those through the years,” she said.
This is Jump’s 40th year as a teacher. She said she likes seeing the next generation of those students she has taught enrolling their children at St. Elizabeth. “Seeing that tells me we have been doing something right, and they want their children to experience what they have already experienced.”
Jump, like Brough, knows how to deliver content so students understand and are successful. She uses a hands-on or lab approach that ignites a spark in students.
Spoltman plans to pursue a career in the science field because of Jump’s class.
“A lot of my fond memories occurred within Jump’s science classes. I remember that I loved doing the Rube Goldberg machine in sixth grade. We had to use five steps of random things we brought in to pop a balloon,” she said.
Both teachers appreciate being chosen by their students as the No. 1 middle school teacher for 2020 and 2021. Jump may have been talking about Brough when she said, “I have worked with some amazing teachers that have challenged me as much as the students have to ‘up’ my learning and to be willing to step out of my comfort zone and learn new concepts that will enhance the learning of the students.”
Both teachers recently attended the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, where they were energized with new ideas and confirmed in what they are already doing to encourage their students to follow their lead by being lifelong learners.
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