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Morton East calculus teacher motivates math-savvy students

Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 11:20 a.m. CDT

CICERO — It can be said that Morton East High School mathematics teacher Barbara Kane found out at an early age she had a head for numbers. After all, as a 10-year-old sixth-grader, that's right, 10, she was already programming on the family's home computer.

Kane joined the Morton East faculty fresh out of college and has been there since for the past 15 years.

"I came here and said this was exactly the environment I want to be teaching in," Kane said. She started teaching advanced placement calculus in 2005.

The foundation of Kane's vocation may have very well started on a keyboard.

"When I was younger my father was a computer programmer," she said. "We had a computer in the house. Back then that was something."

She learned to program as a kid on the first Apple, and that's when the math bug bit. Her parents instilled in her, she said, the need to to go to college and do something interesting.

Kane was twice accepted by the College Board to be an Advanced Placement Exam Reader grading advanced placement calculus. This year, she was nominated for a Golden Apple award. Kane said the real honor is being nominated by a student who thought she did a good job in the classroom.

Over the years, Kane said she has watched as students mathematics skills have evolved.

"I would say there is a different type of math savviness," she said. "With their basic skills, kids had them at the tip of their tongue. Now, I'm seeing more that kids can understand conceptual ideas. But they need to be motivated to learn—that part hasn't changed."About Barbara Kane


EDUCATION Bachelor's in mathematics, DePaul; Master's in science and teaching mathematics, University of Illinois Chicago.

FAMILY Husband, Darren Drapp

INTERESTS Bicycling, going to parents farm in Wisconsin

NOTABLE Received the ICTM Award for outstanding contribution and excellence in teaching by the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 2009.

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