The Math Hub at Saint Thomas Aquinas is a place that builds math confidence in all students.

The ‘Hub’ as students affectionately call it, is more than a place where students go to seek math help, it’s where they come to collaborate and support one another. In the process of working together they learn the importance and power of communicating mathematically. Students say spending time in the Hub makes them feel less anxious about making mistakes and more willing to engage in math conversations. Here’s what you need to know about the Hub.

The Math Hub is staffed by two teachers and three student volunteers. The volunteer slots fill up quickly. As a matter of fact, within a few days of the start of the semester, the slots filled up so fast that the Math teachers are trying to devise a way to include more student volunteers. It turns out that our students really enjoy helping one another. While the Hub is a popular spot and students need to pick up a pass before STA period to make sure they get in, it’s not the only option for students seeking math help. Our schedule allows a school-wide STA period at the same time, so all Math teachers are available to work with students during this time. It’s just that students really like the energetic atmosphere of the Hub and doing math with other students.
(*pictures pre-Covid)

If you’ve never been to the Hub, just follow the cacophony of student voices and the buzzing of math conversations emanating out of Room 204 on the second floor. The setup of the Math Hub is not what you’d expect to find in a traditional classroom. There’s no way to tell the front of the room from the back as the space was intentionally designed for students and teachers to collaborate and practice math together. The room is furnished with flexible seating, standing desks, multiple whiteboards and screens. There isn’t an inch of space that isn’t utilized for learning.

Math teacher, Stephanie Turner, whose classroom is the Math Hub and who teaches the innovative Algebra I Lab class has this to say about the Hub.
How would a student describe the Math Hub?
We actually surveyed the students about the Hub and overall the feedback has been very positive.
It has affected my grade in a more positive way and the same with my mental health. I would get stressed over not doing well in math then I went to the Hub and the teachers there help a lot and don't make me feel dumb.” ~ Freshman

I get a better understanding of things I don't get in class or need better clarification on.” ~ Sophomore

Even though most of the kids in the math hub are in math classes I took over 2+ years ago, it's a nice review of old stuff that maybe I've forgotten about. This is especially the case with Honors Algebra 2 students. I like helping them the most because their material is more challenging. I definitely relearn stuff by teaching/tutoring it to others.“ ~ Junior
What are your goals for the Math Hub? What do you hope to accomplish?
My goal is always for students to become more comfortable communicating mathematics with each other. I also want them to see at least a glimpse of the beauty of mathematics. I want students to feel comfortable and never stressed in the Hub. I want them to leave more confident every single time.
Tell us about the student volunteers. Anyone stand out to you?
I had a very bright student as a freshman in class. He typically did not struggle but did not really enjoy helping others through problems. He did not enjoy "teaching". Now he is always helping others, teaching and sharing his joy of math with everyone around him. He comes to help out in the Hub every STA period. I never have to ask him - he just jumps in and helps out. His love for math is obvious and it inspires those around him.

As to the innovative Algebra I Lab class that Stephanie teaches out of the Hub, the class was first offered as a pilot to incoming freshmen in the 2019-20 school year. Lisa Andrews, Math Department Chair and Stephanie devised the Algebra I Lab course specifically for students who struggle with doing math and therefore lack confidence in their ability. The teachers spent a year studying student data, evaluating current supports and researching what area high schools and even high schools across the country were doing to help struggling math students. The main goal of the Algebra I Lab is for students to realize that God created everyone with a gift for math. That even though math can be challenging they can still be successful.

The class is unique in that students meet everyday and placement is determined by the Academic Counseling and Math departments. The class is ever evolving and students who start in the Algebra I Lab don’t always stay there - some move up during the year. It has been extremely successful and now that it’s in its second year, the teachers are hoping to gather data and further refine the curriculum.

The Saint Thomas Aquinas Math Hub is a place where students of all abilities work comfortably and receive support. The dedicated space for math practice is an asset for teachers and students. Between the success of the Hub and the development of the Algebra I Lab class, students are not only talking about Math, they’re feeling confident in their abilities and succeeding.

Lisa Andrews, Math Department Chair
Stephanie Turner, Math Hub Coordinator, Algebra I Lab Teacher