PBA’s Swick co-chairs Math Conference

By Jocelyn Martinez, Contributor

Palm Beach Atlantic’s Mathematic Society had a weekend that was different beyond any other typical weekend. They pulled out their calculators and sharpened their pencils for an event that was one of a kind. Math teachers from all over Florida and even out-of-state all gathered in West Palm Beach for the 57th Annual Math Conference.

Teachers began to show up at the Okeechobee Marriott Wednesday night, Sept. 30. The Hyatt and Marriott hotels reserved rooms in which the teachers who flocked to the area were able to stay.

Held at the Palm Beach Convention Center, the conference took up almost all of the available rooms between the two hotels.The General Co-Chair of the event, Jim Swick, is a professor in the Department of Arts & Sciences at PBA.

“General Co-Chair essentially runs everything. There are two of us, so I am one-half of the team,” Swick said.

Along with the co-chair, many committees helped get the event moving: program, registration, transportation, hospitality and everything else that is under their reign.

“We have been working for two years to put this thing on, and so now [it has finally arrived and took place on] October first, second and third,” Swick said.

All the traveling teachers came to the conference to learn different teaching methods to help in the classroom, new curriculum for mathematics and other ways to approach the FCAT so their students are better prepared.

Some of the students from PBA and members of the Mathematic Society attended the conference, donating their time to help the function run smoothly. In exchange, they were able to attend the free sessions and receive Workship hours for their participation.

Over 300 sessions were available throughout the weekend. Each session was unique in its own way. Some taught teachers how to use art with graphs or how to successfully teach Algebra I; another was titled “It’s not the Kidz.”

The sessions were designed to help teachers deliver the mathematical message in a new and different way. Each teacher could share how they taught, and learn from someone else how they taught the same subject in their classroom, but with their own twist and style to it.

“A lot of the conference is about math teachers sharing ideas both in sessions and just as they talk,” Swick said.

The vendors in attendance were textbook publishers, technology people that dealt with calculators, for example, and even vendors that sold teacher merchandise for the classroom.

The sessions covered ages K-12th grade, so it was very well-rounded in the information being shared.

“They can get ideas from people like in the Northern part of the state that do things just because of the way they think, because of where they are geographically located. They would be things that we do not think of down here and vice-versa,” Swick said.
For teachers who participated, budget played an important role. Some had to fund their own way to West Palm Beach and others were sent by their school and given the time off.

Unfortunately our state budget is so poor at the moment that many teachers were not able to attend that would have liked to, or a school would send only one of their teachers who is then given the responsibility to bring it all back to everyone else to share the knowledge.

The good news is that over 1,000 teachers were in attendance and able to participate in the many sessions offered.

“Math teachers who are interested in improving what they do are the ones showing up at this meeting,” Swick said. “They want to improve their teaching and increase their knowledge.”

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