Will Reiser comes from a family of engineers who believe that math counts. Which is why Reiser volunteered to coach a group of Hobbs middle school students for a MATHCOUNTS competition program.
Similar to Science Olympiad, MATHCOUNTS pits schools from around the state in a one-day competition packed with written and oral math quizzes. Top schools advance from the chapter competition to a state competition and top students there form a team to represent the state at a national competition.
Reiser moved to Hobbs in late 2012 where he went to work for Pettigrew & Associates as a civil engineer. At the gentle urging of his boss, Debra Hicks, and his father – who coached Reiser’s own MATHCOUNTS team when he was in middle school – the 24-year-old approached several Hobbs administrators last August about starting a local math-enrichment program within the nationwide organization
“To have somebody with Will’s knowledge and enthusiasm for math step forward and volunteer to help our kids was really fantastic,” said HMS Deputy Supt. Eppie Calderon. “He’s building confidence in our kids and giving them a love for the subject.”
Reiser spends a couple hours each week coaching students at Houston and Heizer Middle Schools as they prepare for MATHCOUNTS contests. “I’m teaching novel problem-solving techniques,” he explained. “How not to be afraid of word problems is the biggest goal of the program.”
Reiser took his first team of students – 10 from Houston and four from Heizer – to a regional Math Counts competition in early February in Las Cruces. After a series of three written math tests – some with calculators, some without calculators and some answered in teams – eight Hobbs students qualified to advance to state competition in Albuquerque on March 8th. (The students who qualified for state competition are Kaleb Hobbs, Briton Dunn, Tyler Henry, Aaliyah Ramirez, Jackson Driskill, Bethany Thornton, Colby Coleman and Brenden Strickland.)
In addition, Strickland and Dunn made it to the Countdown Round based on their high scores. In that round, students from around the region faced off in a head-to-head competition that rewarded students who could solve problems on their feet and buzz in the fastest.
Although the Houston 8th-graders didn’t advance far in the final round, the fact that they were in the hunt was impressive. “It means that they scored in the top 10 students out of 64,” Reiser said. “Given that it was our first year, I was pretty excited with the overall results.”
In anticipation of the state contest Reiser has built a buzzer system and is stepping up his tutoring efforts. And he’s looking forward to next year, when he hopes he might get some tutoring help from more parents and/or mathematicians. “I’m just one guy and I have a day job,” Reiser laughed. “But I’m having fun. I’m really enjoying the enthusiasm the kids have. It really makes it easy to get up in the morning and go teach this program.”
Anybody interested in helping Reiser tutor students for next year’s Math Counts contest can contact him at 393-9827 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.