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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

Letter to the Editor

Calculus resurgency expands program

Last year only one student, Matthew Shattuck, ’07, enrolled in calculus, but this year the class consists of 11 seniors. Mike Fenton, mathematics department chairperson, precalculus, trigonometry and algebra II teacher, adds calculus to his schedule for the first time.

Fenton replaced Dr. Bob Arnold who passed the torch after 20 years of teaching.

Though not a requirement for graduation, some students choose to take the class to prepare for the years of college math. The common goal of the class is for each student to pass the Advanced Placement exam at the end of the year, for which they will receive four units of university-level math credit.

?I work them hard and provide a strong foundation so they will all be ready for the AP test,? Fenton said. ?As a team we are competing against the test.?

Students who pass the AP test are believed to have an advantage as they begin general education requirements. Senior David Fujihara took trigonometry independently over the summer before passing the test to gain admission into the class.

?I am taking calculus because it will better prepare me for college,? Fujihara said. ?I barely passed the test to get into the class, but so far I am enjoying it. It?s a fun class because of the camaraderie between the students.?

Most of the students already had Fenton for two years and know what to expect.

“(Andrew) Biehler copies down random things that I say and quotes me later,? Fenton said. ?All 11 kids are fun to have in class. We are very comfortable with each other. We can joke around then get right back on track.?

Students believe Fenton?s teaching style helps simplify the math. One of the most helpful things he does for his students is opening up his room at lunch Tuesday-Friday for students who need extra help.

?Mr. Fenton is so nice and he explains everything well,” Anita Rahman, ’08, said. “He is one of the best teachers I?ve ever had and all my friends in the class want to help me if I have a problem. It has been a great year so far.?

Fenton took calculus as a sophomore in high school. In an effort to gain additional knowledge on teaching a calculus class, he sat in on a few of his sister Emily?s, ’07, classes at Clovis West High School in the spring of ’07, and observed Tina Nakashian, algebra and pre-algebra teacher, teach classes at Sunnyside High School.

?I love to teach calculus and math in general, because I like the feeling you get when everything clicks and you know how it all works,? Fenton said. ?I want to do everything I can to help my students understand math. Sometimes it?s good for the students to see me struggle so they know that it?s okay for them to struggle.

“Seventh graders that start in pre-algebra give themselves the option of taking calculus as seniors,” Fenton said. He went on to say that as long as students keep working hard and do not give up on math they will succeed.

Fenton wants his students to get as much out of the class as possible and holds ambitious goals for the future of the math program.

?I would love to have 20 kids in calculus each year,? Fenton said. ?If we raise the bar at the top we will be doing well overall. In the future we would like to team up with Fresno Pacific University to offer classes like statistics, business math and history of math.?

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