Spotlight on PMS Math Educators

The key to successful implementation of Common Core Math is the educators.  

David Foster, the Executive Director of SVMI, and District consultant Cheryl Holzmeyer, Ph.D., both emphasize that what matters most is the professional training and instructional practices of teachers, and classroom implementation.  As Foster has stated, “All that ever matters is teaching.”

In PUSD, teachers at all levels are collaborating on implementation of Common Core math, to promote coherence between grade levels and to take advantage of the full range of expertise among District staff.   What follows are comments of the Piedmont Middle School math educators about math education and the changes under Common Core.


Stephanie Roth, a math teacher for 18 years, currently teaches Common Core 6 Math.  

“Math was always my favorite subject in school and it turned out I seem to have a knack for helping kids understand it.  The most rewarding thing for me in teaching is hearing a student say, “I get it now!”  Woohoo!  It absolutely makes my day and keeps me going.”

“The [Common Core] changes are good and necessary, but not easy.  CC makes math more meaningful and accessible, and prepares kids better for today’s challenges (college, the workplace, and our ever-changing world).  We can do this!”


Karen Bloom, a math teacher for 8 years, currently teaches Common Core 7 Math.

“I am a teacher because I love helping people learn. My heart soars when that lightbulb moment happens.  I am a math teacher because math is so very interesting to me and so very necessary for all of us. I hope to create students who will be mathematically literate in the modern world. The most rewarding part of teaching is connecting with students, taking them from a place of confusion to a place of understanding. In math, this transformation happens when someone starts out not able to do something and later accomplishes it.”

“Common Core will help our students have a deeper understanding of math and be able to use it and apply it to their lives both throughout their schooling and in their livelihoods in the future. The enhanced practice with problem solving that students will get is invaluable and can be applied to their future learning and well as their lives.”


Melissa Li, a math teachers for 20 years, currently teaches Common Core 7 Math and Geometry.

“I love helping kids make the connections and seeing the ‘aha’ moments.  Math just makes sense and all the concepts are connected to one another.  I love showing the big picture of math and how it connects with everything in the world.”

“[Under Common Core, I’m] very excited to see students take more ownership of their learning and seeing the ‘aha’ moments on their own rather than having it more top down learning.”


Lucas Denman, a math teachers for 5 years, currently teaches Common Core 6 Math.

“I love the process of problem-solving, and I believe that mathematics teaches students to use logic, reasoning, and strategic thinking to approach and solve difficult questions and tasks.  I am a big fan of common core!  By focusing on problem-solving and reasoning instead of memorization and regurgitation, we are better preparing our students to enter the global work force in the 21st century.”


Raminder Sidhu, a math teacher for 10 years, currently teaches Common Core 8 Math.  

“I am a teacher because I love the creative process. Every day, I see students approaching solutions through different means and communicating their ideas in unique ways.  As a teacher I have the opportunity to be creative, continually evolving my approach to lessons and student needs. I am constantly learning from my students as they are from me. I love the positive energy of Piedmont Middle School and all that students bring to the classroom.”

“While on the surface math is about numbers and mathematical concepts, it is really about much more. Communication, teamwork, study habits, organization, and self-empowerment all come into play in the math classroom. I enjoy teaching a subject that is challenging and essential to students’ success while also tending to these human skills.”

“I truly appreciate the coming changes to math under Common Core. The approach represents the learning of math at its deepest levels, and at levels that truly benefit students by contributing to long-term understanding. To me, the Common Core embodies much of what I know about good teaching. Although I have taught for almost a decade, now more than ever I am excited about teaching math.”


Tamara Knapp, a math teacher for 16 years, currently teaches Algebra I and Common Core 8 Math at Piedmont Middle School.

“I like to teach math because I love numbers and puzzles.  Much of math is learning new ways to solve new puzzles.  Most rewarding is when I witness students expressing excitement for the math they are learning and can show they genuinely understand and have mastered a new skill.”

“I have always tried to teach in the ways Common Core advocates.  It just always seemed the right way to go about it.  When you have a full, deep understanding of something, you don’t need to memorize a bunch of rules which can be easily forgotten.  The ‘rules’ come out of that understanding.”

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