Leaving Finland

Lake Jyvasjarvi I have never lived anywhere for 5 months other than Jyvaskyla, Finland. As my Fulbright journey concludes, there is so much to still digest. It will take months, if not years, to truly assimilate all the learning. Before I left Southern California, I wrote about the what I would miss the most from home and what I  looked forward to experiencing in Finland. It is safe to say I met my goals. Top 7 Goals 1. Discussing Education Helsinki Workshop Through professional development programs, Fulbright Finland connected teachers with scholars and researchers, for the purpose of putting inquisitive minds together. The Making Democracies Resilient to Modern Threats seminar provided participants with fascinating research and presentations. 2. Nordic Model Bus station in Espoo What does an efficient and earnest country look like?  It looks like Finland. Yes, people pay higher taxes, but get so much in return. I for one appreciated the well-maintained ro

HE DID IT! Lamar Queen Wins Ring the Bell Contest!


“Ring the Bell” National Contest Winners Honored for Outstanding Achievements in Math

NEW YORK— A math teacher who engages his students through rapping his lessons and a young math scholar opened trading on the New York Stock exchange Wednesday as the grand prize winners of the nationwide “Ring the Bell” contest, recognizing excellence in math education. Reign Glover, a 10th grade student at Choctaw High School in Choctaw, Oklahoma, and Lamar Queen, an 8th grade Algebra teacher at Los Angeles Academy, a middle school in South Central, Los Angeles, were named as winners for their skill, dedication and innovation in math education.

Get Schooled, the national education initiative co-developed by Viacom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the New York Stock Exchange co-sponsored the contest as part of Financial Literacy Week and in recognition of President Obama’s pledge to improve American students’ performance in math and science.

“Improving math literacy is vital to our country’s workforce and our competitive role in the world economy,” said Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, who accompanied the winners and Celebrity Education Ambassador, actor Hank Azaria, at the bell-ringing ceremony. “This contest honors those who not only understand the importance of a good math and science education, but are shining examples of it.”

Math scholar Reign Glover impressed contest officials not only with her outstanding math accomplishments, but the fact that she balances her demanding course load while managing to help take care of her five younger siblings in a single parent home. Also a student athlete, Glover maintained straight A’s over the last year and a half following an unexpected move from inner–city Los Angeles to Oklahoma and a tragic family loss. For the last two summers, she has participated in the prestigious Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth summer program, completing a three-week advanced math course at the University of Santa Cruz. She has been invited back this year for the CTY program at the Roger Williams University in Rhode Island where she will study game theory economics.

“Reign’s compelling drive to succeed against the odds and her inner strength” sets an inspirational example to others, according to Sara Hahn, a former teacher who nominated Glover for the contest. Hahn is the cofounder of Determined to Succeed, an educational nonprofit she started with Azaria that mentors and tutors disadvantaged youth.

In an essay written by one of his peers, winning math teacher Lamar Queen is recognized for his innovative teaching style, composing his lessons in the form of math raps. His first rap, “Slope Intercept Form,” became an instant hit with students, who once considered his class boring, and received more than 50,000 YouTube hits (www.youtube.com/watch?v=REjcPZeypVg). Three years later, Queen and a fellow middle school teacher released a Web site, www.musicnotesonline.com,  which features CDs and DVDs filled with songs and videos using Queen’s original music that are helping hundreds of students learn math concepts.

The essay stated, “[Queen] has developed a whole range of entertaining and educational raps for students of regular and higher math, and has turned on students to a subject they once feared.”

“NYSE Euronext's collaboration with Viacom's Get Schooled initiative reinforces the importance of being innovative and creative in how we reach today's youth with the fundamentals of education and financial literacy," said Duncan Niederauer, CEO, NYSE Euronext.

The “Ring the Bell” winners were chosen from a national pool of nominations that included students and teachers from dozens of middle and high schools across the country. In addition to having the opportunity to ring the New York Stock Exchange Opening Bell, Glover and Queen also received an all-expense paid trip to New York City, a chance to meet Get Schooled Celebrity Education Ambassador Hank Azaria, a backstage tour of the New York Stock Exchange, a Dell “Nickelodeon Edition” laptop and other prizes.


The Get Schooled Foundation connects, inspires and mobilizes people – from policymakers and corporate leaders to communities and kids – to improve high school graduation and college completion rates in the U.S.  It provides resources and information and creative programming that engage a range of audiences to address America’s education crisis. An independent 501(c)(3) organization, the Get Schooled Foundation’s co-founders include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Viacom, including its divisions BET Networks, MTV Networks and Paramount Pictures.
Jimmy Pascascio
6th Grade Teacher
Los Angeles Academy Middle School


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