BY RACHAEL ADKINS
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
RUSSELL Helping children learn.
This simple description describes the incredibly rewarding goal Russell High School math teacher Jeani Gollihue holds close to her heart in her work with the Russell community’s youth. For nearly 32 years she’s taught students with this passion in mind, earning her the recent recognition of being named a Kentucky finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
“When I’m out in the public and I see kids (who) have gone through school who had me as a teacher and they’re doing well in their careers and stuff, you know, it makes you feel good that you had a little part in that,” she said.
The PAEMST represents the nation’s highest honors for teachers grades seven through 12 of mathematics and science. Recipients serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.
Gollihue first gained an interest in teaching upon realizing she would need to do so to become a coach — her initial passion. For about 21 years she coached both softball and basketball in the Greenup County School District, but simultaneously she fell in love with teaching.
“I think it was just God’s way of getting me where I’m supposed to be with the whole athletic thing,” she said.
Her teaching philosophy is developed around the concept of letting her students know she cares about them. If the students understand this they will be more willing to put in work, she said.
“You’ve got to have some kind of rapport,” said Gollihue.
She added there are also multiple techniques that come with good teaching, including using different strategies since each student learns differently.
Gollihue also touched on how she has had to adapt her methods throughout the years, whether it be because of new technology or even new research demonstrating what works best in the classroom.
“The material doesn’t change but the people you’re teaching changes,” she said.
When it comes to Gollihue’s favorite teaching moments, she said they continue to happen every day. Being in a tight-knit community, she is constantly bumping into past students and hearing about their successes. This passion for helping children grow has earned the Russell teacher the recognition of PAEMST finalist two times prior.
She said winners of the 2017 awards will be announced in the spring.
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