Hernando Teacher of the Year solves problem: Making math fun

By Leah Masuda, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2017, 5:19 PM EST

It's not unusual to find graphs taped all over the floor in Tiffany Howland's math class.

  • Parrot Middle School teacher named Teacher of the Year in Hernando 
  • Tiffany Howland teaches math — and makes it fun
  • Howland has helped improve school grade by entire letter

The 31-year-old started at Parrot Middle School in Hernando County five years ago as a substitute. 

“I got a position here for two days. I never left after those two days," Howland said.

Now, five years later, she has more than 100 students a day excited to come through her doors. 

Hernando recently named Howland their Teacher of the Year because she does perhaps a difficult feat for some: making math fun.

“This is one of the best math classes I've had all year, well, my life here," eighth grade student Ashton Sowder said. 

Every day it’s different in Howland’s class, whether students are on their feet or using technology for students to share and solve problems together. 

“There is a time for direct instruction where the teacher teaches the classroom. That's how they learn the new skills. But once they have that new skill, we have to practice that new skill," Howland said. 

Her methods are working. The school says she’s helped improve the school grade by an entire letter. Last year, the school boasted the 22nd highest math gains among the state's 568 middle schools. 

“She always offers to do things for us, like if we need help on tutoring or something, she'll offer to come before school or stay after school to help you," said eighth grade student Kali Christie said.

That’s why the school is putting Howland’s name in for Teacher of the State. They’re feeling pretty good about it. 

“What did you guys think of the activity?" Howland asked the class.

“It was fun," said the class in a chorus. 

Howland used to be a paramedic in Hernando County. She misses it, but teaching was her calling, she said.