Mathematics teacher Candice Harrington believes in her students at Capistrano Valley High School, and they believe in themselves as a result. Several years ago, Harrington started a “Drive to Five” campaign in her AP Calculus AB class to push students to pass and strive for perfect scores on the AP test. Harrington takes her instructional practice seriously and constantly seeks out innovative teaching strategies. In her calculus classes, students worked in teams to solve difficult problems. Harrington introduced manipulatives, games, group quizzes and other engaging activities to make sure students were paying attention and learning actively. Over the past three years, 95% of Harrington’s students have passed the AP Calculus AB exam with an average score of 4.1 (out of 5).
In addition to calculus, Harrington insists on teaching lower-level courses that build foundational skills. Hands-on learning opportunities abound in all her classes. In algebra, students learn about factoring not from lectures, textbooks or memorization, but through manipulatives that illustrate the concepts. They make scale drawings of favorite comic strips in geometry and build models to practice finding the volume of three-dimensional shapes in calculus. Harrington also teaches teachers: She mentors student teachers, serves as an instructional coach for the district and lectures on mathematics methods at California State University Fullerton (CSUF). Harrington has presented at the California and Orange County Mathematics Councils on discovery-based learning and strategies to improve success rates in AP Calculus. As a math instructor for CSUF’s Project MISS (Mathematics Intensive Summer Sessions), Harrington sends girls back to local high schools with renewed confidence in their math skills and excitement to continue their studies.
An integral part of the school community, Harrington coordinates Link Crew, a mentorship program for incoming first-year students, and advises the school newspaper, yearbook and California Scholarship Federation. She oversees student speakers for graduation, working with them to hone their speeches. Harrington shows up for sporting events and activities, often with handmade signs she and her three children wave as they cheer for her students.
Harrington earned a bachelor’s in mathematics from the University of California San Diego in 2005 and a master’s in education from Concordia University, Irvine in 2018.
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