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Math skills put Fitch grad in classroom

November 10, 2011
Special to the Town Crier
As a boy, Calvin Roby’s dream was to become a major league baseball player. Although he did not achieve his childhood fantasy, nevertheless, he experienced success in a different career. Roby became a heavy hitter in the classroom.

After graduating from Fitch in 1994, Roby followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He enlisted in the U.S. Army. Upon completing three years of active duty, he received an honorable discharge. This qualified him to receive financial assistance to begin his college education.

As a high school student, he never seriously considered a teaching career, but his proficiency in mathematics landed him a position as a tutor in the military.

“I discovered that I had the ability to break information down into understandable parts," he said. "I didn’t realize it at the time, but this is the essence of successful mathematics instruction. I also enjoy interaction with people and education provides many opportunities for this.”

He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in secondary mathematics and master’s degree in administration from Youngstown State University. Currently, he in his fifth year as a math instructor at the Trumbull Career and Technical Center.

Like most math teachers, Roby is comfortable with numbers. Statistics, percents, and problem solving were purposeful in his life. In his youth, he played on many sandlot teams and also participated in varsity baseball at Fitch. Naturally, he was the keeper of the batting averages for the hitters and the ERA’s for the pitchers. Several years ago, the TCTC switched from an alphabetical to numerical grading policy. Roby took a leadership role in explaining the nuances to the faculty.

Larry Crawford, academic supervisor at the TCTC, called Roby an outstanding teacher. “Calvin is very knowledgeable about mathematics, but his truly defining characteristic is his ability to relate the subject to the daily lives of students. He shows kids how they can use what they learning in class. For example, if he has carpentry or building trades students in his class, he teaches them how math is involved in cutting wood, measuring angles or constructing buildings.”

As an administrator, one of the traits that Crawford most admires about Roby is his ability to make good decisions that are grounded in common sense.

“Calvin has an intrinsic understanding of what works and what does not work with kids,” Crawford said. “He seldom experiences discipline problems because his classroom is like a community. Everybody knows their role and take ownership for their responsibilities. This doesn’t occur by accident. The really good teachers find a way to make this happen year after year after year.”

Surveys among high school students reveal that there is a fear factor with mathematics. It is cumulative in nature. Each lesson builds upon the previous one so you can’t get a fresh start like you do in other courses. Roby says the best method to prevent math phobia is to provide timely intervention.

“You need to create an environment where kids are not afraid to ask questions because this is how to determine what they don’t understand,” he said. “There is much less emphasis today on facts and memorization because technology places information at our fingertips. The goal is to focus on comprehension. How can [students] use the facts to problem solve, analyze and relate their learning to the real world,” Roby said.

Roby resides in Austintown with his his wife Amanda and their three children.

Article Photos

Calvin Roby

 
 

 

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