Holly Kemper on encouraging students to never give up
Educator Holly Kemper instills a mindset of perseverance and determination in her students. She makes it her mission to create a fun classroom, where they feel spurred on to succeed.
In many ways, educator Holly Kemper was destined to become a math teacher. Having shown an incredible aptitude for both math and teaching while at college, her professor encouraged her to switch majors. Following that, she became an RA, and after college, she decided to return to the school where she did her college teaching observation. From the very beginning, Holly loved Artesia High School. She's been there ever since and is now in her 17th year of teaching.
Holly explained that throughout the years, she's performed many roles at Artesia and taught 18 different classes. She now also works as the school's data coordinator and serves as department chair. Holly said that this diverse experience has helped her to see the school as a whole and understand its interconnectedness.
Reflecting on her most effective teaching strategies, Holly said she prioritizes the relationships and interactions she has with her students. She understands that math isn't always students' favorite subject, but tries to find ways to make her classes fun and inspire them not to give up. "The last two years have been a struggle, so I've put a lot of time and effort into making sure they realize they can find a way and I can find a way," she said. Holly has been nurturing this determination by giving her students options, whether that means letting them retake a test or giving them group projects. A particular group project that got her students engaged with math was a task she related to a game they played on their phones. This, she said, allowed them to see how the math worked in action, while allowing them to work together and not getting bogged down with test results and grades.
Understanding that each class will be different, Holly doesn't do things by the book - quite literally. She explained she hasn't used a math book all year, but instead has a three-inch binder full of notes and math problems, which she adapts to fit whatever the needs of her students are on a given day. She always goes above and beyond, too, making herself available to her students at lunch and staying with them after school, so they know they’re supported. "A lot of them just like to sit and talk." she said, adding: "I really try to be there for them."
Photos courtesy of Holly Kemper