Dow Corning employees bring real life perspective to math

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Dow Corning is changing the way that students learn mathematics at Carroll County Middle School. Twelve Dow Corning employees are volunteering one hour each week to tutor seventh graders in mathematics during the school day.

“We are excited to have Dow Corning volunteers,” CCMS math teacher Laura Willhoite said. “It’s great to have professionals willing to come in and help the students. We have engineers, business administrators and others willing to take time out of their busy schedules to help, and we are extremely grateful for that.”

The volunteers meet with two students at a time and work through computer-based mathematics software in designated study areas. If the volunteers see areas of weakness, they let Willhoite and other instructors know.

“A large benefit for the students is interacting with someone who uses math in a real-world setting on a daily basis,” Dow Corning engineer Scott Nab said. “Some students lose hope in middle school when they start to struggle with challenging mathematics lessons, and they begin to question whether math is relevant. We give them hope and encourage them to take the value of mathematics seriously. Rather than writing themselves off, some students break out of their shell and try to succeed.”

When students stop trying to master their mathematics lessons, they are limiting their future career options. Dow Corning is helping to bring that real-world importance inside the walls of the school.

“So many of our students need assistance with math,” Assistant Superintendent Bill Hogan said. “When the students see people who use math in the real world, it makes it more real for them. They are able to take that perspective back to the classroom and to their lessons.”

Community support is critical to student success. Having an organization such as Dow Corning help educate students sets a powerful example for others to follow. When the community helps the school, the school can produce students who will help the community.

Beyond mathematics instruction, the volunteers also serve as mentors. By spending time with the students, the volunteers find out more about how they learn, which helps them present the content in a way that the students can understand. 

“Several mentors are going above and beyond in terms of their individual students,” Willhoite said. “In the beginning, they completed an icebreaker to get to know each other a little better. Now, many of the volunteers are able to tell the students what they do at Dow and how math relates to that role.”

There is tremendous demand for volunteers such as this in the Carroll County School District. Exposing students to the world of work helps them, not only to make career plans, but also to see how their current studies relate to those careers.

When students see people who use those subjects for a living, it transforms the way they see school.

“The schools and students need this type of assistance from the community,” Nab said. “Many students don’t have this type of interaction each day. We can make a difference there.”


Carl Roberts is director of public relations for Carroll County Public Schools.