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from weatherman to math coach,

rucker’s still right

jeff rucker follows his heart to help kids AT mathnasium – a math tutoring center

“I love the CSRA. It’s home for me and my family. I have a heart to help our children succeed and be the best they can be.”

“Our instructors have a heart for kids and a sincere ability to encourage students and build their confidence.”

Jeff Rucker was the chief meteorologist for WAGT NBC-26 News for more than a decade. During that time, he developed a loyal fan base and became one of the area’s most popular local news figures. Most people would hold on to such a position, possibly until retirement, but Rucker felt a greater calling. He recently left NBC-26 to start a new venture, Mathnasium, a tutoring center for mathematics. Why the career change? Rucker explains his reasons to verge, and provides some background about Mathnasium and how it can help math students of all ages. Verge: Obvious first question: After 12 years as chief meteorologist for NBC-26, when and why did you make the decision to leave? Rucker: I really feel like God has called me to do Mathnasium. For the longest time, my wife, Christine, and I wondered how we would deal with the odd hours of television with our two children. We thought our answer was to move five minutes from the TV station. That was the solution for a few years. But our family’s evening and weekend events grew, and then the TV station relocated to the other side of town. We feel like the Lord slowly closed the television door during the last few years. But just as he closed the TV door, he opened the Mathnasium door. I’ve always enjoyed teaching. In fact, one of my favorite things about being a TV meteorologist was my visits to schools to teach the kids about weather. I’ve been teaching at our church’s (Stevens Creek Church in Martinez) Sunday school for almost six years and I started teaching an Intro to Weather class at Augusta State University three years ago. All of this has shown me that teaching brings me great joy. And, of course, meteorology is 85 percent math. I’ve always enjoyed math and I even got my high school varsity letter on the Math Team. Mathnasium allows me to use my gifts and talents in a way that can have significant impact for our community. It’s a perfect fit for me. Verge: When did you first become familiar with Mathnasium and what appealed to you about the program? Rucker: I learned about Mathnasium in late 2009. I researched it extensively, and the more I learned about the company and the program, the more I knew it would allow me to use my gifts to make a positive impact on our community. The company has a real heart for kids and their families, and that appeals to me. I love the CSRA. It’s home for me and my family. I have a heart to help our children succeed and be the best they can be. Verge: How did you assemble your team of instructors? Rucker: We have hired, and will continue to hire, individuals with superior math skills and a desire to help and encourage

students. As part of the hiring process, instructors must excel at Mathnasium instructor assessments. Equally important, our instructors have a heart for kids and a sincere ability to encourage students and build their confidence. Students leave Mathnasium more confident than when they came in. Verge: Is there a limit to the number of students who can enroll at any time? Rucker: No! We welcome any second- to 12th-graders who would like to catch up, keep up and get ahead in math. Verge: What does the program entail and what is the Mathnasium Method? Rucker: Our mission is to teach math in a way that makes sense to students. At the heart of the Mathnasium Method is a strong sense of numbers. In fact, we call it “number sense.” When a student has number sense, they have a deep understanding of how numbers relate. The Mathnasium Method is based on the concept of teaching for understanding. Our students are taught that not only math principles are true, but they are taught why these principles are true. Verge: What is the Mathnasium curriculum? Does it work in tandem with the student’s textbooks and assignments? How is it designed? Rucker: The Mathnasium curriculum serves students second grade up to pre-calculus. The curriculum is extremely robust, covering everything from curing kids of finger counting to the higher math material of high school. Parents can go to the Mathnasium website ( to see how well our curriculum corresponds to state standards. Verge: How is Mathnasium different from, and preferable to, hiring a private tutor? Rucker: Our enrollment allows students unlimited attendance with no scheduling required. This provides families flexibility for their busy lives and is a great value.

Verge: What are the greatest mathematical challenges that students face? Rucker: Not having a good mathematical foundation is the most common challenge for students. This often becomes even more of a struggle by the time students reach high school. Verge: How does Mathnasium address these issues? Rucker: Each student gets assessed to find their strengths and weaknesses. Then we build a highly individualized learning plan to address weaknesses we’ve discovered in the assessment. I should also emphasize that we fully expect at least one-third of our enrollment will be students and families looking for enrichment. Those students will also be assessed and given a custom learning plan that will challenge them and take them to the next level. Verge: Can students enroll at any time during the school year? Rucker: Yes! But if you see a need in your son or daughter, don’t wait to act. The longer you wait, the more challenging it will be to fill in the gaps. Verge: Why do mathematics continue to terrify and confuse students, and is the “boys are better at math” stereotype still prevalent? If so, what can parents and educators do to help overcome this? Rucker: I believe all students can do the math. I don’t think students hate math. I think some students hate being embarrassed and frustrated because they don’t understand math. Mathnasium can be part of the mathematics solution for many kids and families. We will work together with teachers and parents to help kids build the solid mathematical foundation they need to succeed. We look forward to helping make a difference. by ALISON RICHTER photos LEAH DESLANDES

do the math

STOP BY 4219-1 Washington Road, Evans, in the Mullins Crossing shopping center CALL 706.868.9393

EMAIL VISIT MATHNASIUM.COM/EVANS | community driven news | December 14, 2011 21

December Issue B 2011  

people | places | events | culture the NEW generation of print media serving Augusta & the CSRA

December Issue B 2011  

people | places | events | culture the NEW generation of print media serving Augusta & the CSRA