Joshua Wilson receives New Teacher of the Year award
Paw Paw Schools mathematics teacher Joshua Wilson was honored with the Mary Linn Fox award for Morgan County Schools New Teacher of the Year at a May 25 awards ceremony.
Wilson graduated in 2011 from Frostburg State University summa cum laude. He received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a teaching certification option.
Wilson teaches math halftime to Paw Paw High School seventh through 12th graders. His classes are seventh grade math, eighth grade math, algebra and geometry.
Wilson also teaches math to small groups of Paw Paw Elementary second through fifth grade students as a Title I math interventionist during the second half of the day. He is an after-school tutor at Paw Paw Schools as well.
Wilson said that the most important thing in teaching is to find a common ground and to let kids know you’re interested in them not just as students, but also as people.
He said he enjoys the fulfillment in seeing students succeed and learn.
“When you see a student pull through and become something they could be, it’s the best feeling in the world,” Wilson said.
In the classroom, he’ll work with students’ skill deficiencies and provide extra support.
Wilson said the biggest thing he’s seeing is that many students don’t know their multiplication tables by the end of elementary school or by middle school. It would be really helpful if they knew them by heart.
Word problems can also be a struggle for students. He tries to teach kids how to figure out what to focus on in the problem.
Retention of information that’s already been taught is also an issue, Wilson said. He advised his students to refresh their math skills over the summer.
In class, Wilson works on memorization techniques and polishing students’ skills in a way that they’ll remember the process behind it. He also uses visual aids and does hands-on learning activities.
Kids, especially middle school students, are more apt to understand and remember lessons if they are connected to hands-on activities, he said.
Wilson said he took his seventh through 12th grade on a fishing field trip to the pond in Paw Paw with teacher Chris Poniris at the beginning of the school year for a lesson in statistics. They caught fish, recorded their length and threw them back in the water. The students later analyzed the data on the fish length.
The fishing trip idea came from a student. With Wilson being an avid fisherman, it fit right in with building common interests. They all had fun during the trip, he said. Besides fishing, Wilson also enjoys sports, especially football and vehicles.
Wilson felt that having a consistent routine in class was important for kids. They do a warm-up bell-ringer, discuss homework problems and then work on the lesson of the day.
He said that he’s “there to teach and they’re there to learn,” but that students know that he cares.
Wilson said getting the award was unexpected. He deeply appreciated receiving the honor.
Paw Paw Schools Principal Michelle Fleming said they were thrilled to have Wilson on their team. He was dedicated, creative and “has a true love and passion for mathematics and a sincere interest and concern for all students no matter what their developmental or cultural difference.”
Assistant Principal Melinda Kasekamp said that Wilson was a phenomenal first year teacher and that he had done a great job teaching content and reaching all students to help them achieve their potential. Wilson also had excellent classroom management skills.