New math equation and 'Power of One' leads to educational success

By Bob Robinson

Star STAFF

   They're teaching a new type equation in the Math Department at T.A. Dugger Junior High School these days.
   The equation, M=K, K=P (Math equals Knowledge, Knowledge equals Power), was used successfully by 30 8th-grade students who met their Algebra I high school graduation requirements even before they entered high school.
   Beginning with freshmen entering high school in the 2001-2002 school year, students are required to pass Algebra I, English II and Biology Gateway Tests in order to receive a high school diploma in Tennessee.
   The Algebra I Gateway Test, which takes about two hours to complete, measures student understanding of positive and negative numbers, equations and interpretation of charts and graphs, according to Gary Elliott, who teaches Algebra I at T.A. Dugger Junior High School.
   Inspired to teach math by his former math teacher, Charles Lipford, Elliott believes math is not just a study of numbers. "It is a common sense approach to every day living."
   Elliott and the three other members of the "Math Team" at T.A. Dugger instill in each student the "Power of One," that is, the power students have to determine their own destiny.
   The T.A. Dugger "Math Team" represents 87 years combined teaching experience.
   Elliott has 27 years with the Elizabethton School System; Larry Bowers, who teaches 6th, 7th and 8th-grade math, has 29 years; Jane Raulston, who teaches 6th-grade math, has 27 years; and, Tammy Wise, 7th-grade math teacher, has four years.
   If students learn basic math skills, such as long division, addition, subtraction, decimals and fractions, the concepts of Algebra are easy, according to Elliott.
   "It is a team effort. The others in the math department at T.A. Dugger do a great job. They deserve credit for the Gateway Test preparation by teaching basic math skills.
   "Students who have studied math at T.A. Dugger have an advantage over students who have transferred into T.A. Dugger from other schools," Elliott said.
   There is a unique bond among the math teachers. All love to teach and help students understand the practical applications of mathematics in life.
   As one walks the stately and hallowed halls of T. A. Dugger Junior High School, where thousands of students have gone before while it was a high school and now a junior high school, one can fail to notice the fervor of the "Power of One" exemplified in the math classrooms.
   The State of Tennessee Department of Education Gateway Test was "kicked up a notch" when English II and Biology were added to high school graduation requirements for freshmen entering high school in the 2001-2002 school year.
   Proficiency tests in English and Math, administered to students in the 1980s, have been replaced by Gateway Tests.
   "Education has come a long way since the 1970s when employers said high school graduates couldn't read very well or do basic arithmetic," according to Elliott.
   Elliott, a 1968 graduate of EHS, taught at Bristol, Va., Middle School, before joining Elizabethton City Schools. He majored in math at Milligan College.
   He and his wife, Karen, a registered nurse, have two children: Suzanne, ETSU sophomore who plans on teaching elementary school; and Jason, ETSU student working toward a master's degree in counseling.
   If you pass by T.A. Dugger Junior High School before sunrise one morning and see the light on in one of the math classrooms, it's probably a member of the "Math Team" preparing a lesson plan to relate another example of the "Power of One" using the M=K, K=P equation to achieve success.