Meet a Teacher: Angie Orr
It’s the crucial day before a test. “Everyone, take out your review packets,” announces math teacher Angie Orr. Handing out blue, red, green, and black dry-erase markers with a bright smile, Orr enlists sophomores Sylvie, Zander, Michael, and Georgia to draw solutions on the whiteboards.
For some, sitting in a high school geometry class can be nerve-wracking. Many of us who labored with math know what it’s like to be afraid to ask for an explanation, when it seems everyone else understood how to solve the problem at hand.
What’s needed is a great teacher who encourages students to be curious, ask questions, make mistakes, and try again.
“I unconditionally believe all students can learn math and be successful,” Orr explains. “Math is challenging. Students might not arrive at a solution on the first try, then we’ll try another route.”
Our classroom is a safe place to ask questions. When someone doesn’t understand a concept, Ms. Orr spends as much time as needed for the student to ace that concept. - Mia R. '17
From a young age, Orr liked numbers, patterns, and puzzles. She tutored friends in physics, chemistry, and math in high school. One day, her teacher asked Orr to teach geometry to her peers. She was hooked on teaching.
Back at the whiteboard, Michael tackles a complex problem with slopes, midpoints, bisectors, and a system of 3 algebraic equations. Orr calls attention to him, “Look at Michael’s approach to problem #5. That’s what I call algebraic resilience.” Michael beams, then a few minutes later, he looks worried. After consulting Orr, he discovers a plus sign where a negative sign should be, then revises the solution.
“Some of my classmates and I struggled in past math classes and lost our confidence,” says Mia R. ’17. “But Ms. Orr’s class is different. She knows whether I’m having a good or tough week. Our classroom is a safe place to ask questions. When someone doesn’t understand a concept, Ms. Orr spends as much time as needed for the student to ace that concept. Geometry is a fun class with truly supportive peers and a great teacher.”
In the final minutes of class, Orr asks, “What do you need to know for the test on Thursday?” Responses fly: circle-segment relationships; similar chords, circles, and triangles; chord and tangent lengths; length of an arc formula; finding an angle relative to two segments. Students walk out of the room knowing what is expected of them.
“I’m encouraged to see students who did not have positive experiences with math show excitement to take more math classes at Lakeside and in college.” Orr adds, “Growing up, I was raised to see myself as being just as capable as the next person at tackling something big. I love seeing students tap into their own natural capabilities as math learners.”