Pictures of teenagers and notes from former students paper the walls of Kristen Sargent’s classroom at Harris Academy in Brownsburg, Indiana. Sargent teaches math at a non-traditional high school, which serves students in Brownsburg and nearby Avon who face academic and life challenges, including teen parents, students with health issues, those who have to work to support themselves, and reluctant learners with credit deficits. Sargent is known for her ability to connect with and motivate math-phobic students who traditionally do not like school. She holds them to the highest standards despite the reality that many will not go on to college and dives deep into data to create individualized learning plans for each student in her class. Sargent's students deliver for her: 98% of her students earned their math credits last year, and 57% who retook the Algebra I end-of-course assessment passed, exceeding the school’s target and showing a 39-point mean improvement.
Sargent tirelessly pursues strategies and techniques designed to engage her students and make math instruction more relevant to their world outside school. When Harris Academy adopted project-based learning, Sargent designed a project in which students used Excel spreadsheets and manual calculations to compare cell phone plans, using Algebra I standards like equations and graphing. Sargent works with students not just to hone their algebra skills but to build their confidence, laying a foundation that will help them succeed in quantitative courses as they further their studies. She has taken the lead in the school’s advisory program, designing a curriculum for goal-setting and career planning; students know she believes in them, their abilities, and their potential for a great future.
Regarded as a leader by her peers, Sargent mentors new teachers and leads Harris Academy’s remediation program and math professional learning community. She is involved in professional development both at Harris Academy and at Brownsburg High School (BHS). Sargent secured a grant to obtain licenses for IXL Math, an online skill-building tool that has helped her target and individualize instruction for her students; BHS has now incorporated the program into its math curriculum as well.
Sargent earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education from Oakland City University in 2009.
Press release: Subtracting students' math phobias adds up to a $25,000 Milken Educator Award for teacher Kristen Lents
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