PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

April 28, 2014

McKeever wins Reaud Award

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

NEDERLAND — Carol McKeever only has to walk the halls of Central Middle School to see the impact of her teaching career.

“Hi, Mrs. McKeever!” students call out, extending their hands for a high five or pausing for a hug.

CMS is in McKeever’s blood. The Nederland native was part of the first sixth-grade class to attend the school. Now her life has come full circle — she has spent the past 37 years teaching sixth-grade math at CMS. Her practical approach to the subject earned her a 2014 Reaud Excellence in Education Award from the Beaumont Foundation.

After student teaching pre-K through second grade students, McKeever never anticipated spending her days on a middle school campus. She was “thrown into” CMS when a position opened there for an eighth grade teacher, and she has never regretted it.

“Middle school is a time where students are starting to make choices that could affect their lives,” McKeever said. “You almost have to be a counselor too.”

Coming from the days when math class meant copying sums from the chalkboard, McKeever knows that a more three-dimensional approach to teaching leads to greater comprehension and retention.

“I tell my students, ‘You need to know why,’” McKeever said. “’If you don’t know why, it’s going to catch up with you in Algebra II.’”

McKeever begins each unit of new material with a hands-on activity to provide a concrete example of an abstract concept. She coined the practice “Fearless Fractions” — using colored blocks to teach simplification of fractions. Students often approach her in the grocery store years later to commend her on the effectiveness of that method.

“Whatever you can do to make the kids understand the concept is what needs to be done,” McKeever said.

McKeever is keenly aware of her role as an educator. It is her job to lay her students’ mathematical foundation by instilling in them the concepts they will need to further their understanding in later grades.

“Kids don’t realize that math is a part of everyday life,” McKeever said. “To be successful, you have to have mathematical skills, and it’s very important that the skills they have right now translate.”

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA