Seeds of A Teaching Legacy

Since 1966, three generations have taught at Osborn Elementary School in Ashland, Ohio. The first was recently retired Joyce Kiste - affectionately referred to as "Grandma Kiste" who began the legacy more than four decades ago.

When Grandma Kiste started her career at Osborn, math education was a rote process. Students rehearsed and memorized facts. Teachers recognized that students had often reached different developmental stages, but an intuitive, multisensory math program such as TouchMath didn't exist in those days.

But times have changed. Now, Grandma Kiste is glad to have all the advantages of TouchMath in her classroom. She agrees with the TouchMath philosophy: "You have to treat each child as an individual. They all have different learning habits."

Debby Kiste, her daughter-in-law, started teaching at Osborn in 1972, and still teaches second grade today, over three decades later. Jen Kiste, Joyce's granddaughter and Debby's daughter, began teaching first grade at Osborn in 1999. Debby and Jen share adjoining classrooms.

What keeps the family together at this one school? All three cite the same source of dedication: the children. Their commitment to the children of Osborn hasn't changed in more than 40 years. Instead, what has changed is the nature of mathematics education, and the Kiste family has witnessed the transformation.

The focus today is on problem solving, critical thinking and addressing real-life situations. Math learning has become more interactive and multisensory.

Debby is enthusiastic about contemporary math education: "Today, teachers are able to introduce a greater variety of classroom strategies than we could in the past. We don't all need to solve problems the same way, as long as we understand the concepts and get to the correct answers."

Another change involves the issue of accountability. Teachers at Osborn, the Kiste family included, face the same new testing challenges as teachers across the country.

Debby observes: "TouchMath's general math kit has so much of what's on our diagnostic tests. It really helps."

Jen Kiste echoes the wisdom of her mother and grandmother: "We accommodate students with different skill levels. I want my students to understand the concept of numbers. TouchMath builds confidence and gives my students a place to start. When they develop confidence, more work gets completed with less frustration."

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