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News from 2023-2024

Posted: April 19, 2024

APS Educator Earns National Award for Her Commitment to Math Education

Kory Obenshain currently works at East San Jose Elementary as a math interventionist.

Kory Obenshain

Kory Obenshain

Over the years, Kory Obenshain has trained more than 1,000 Albuquerque Public Schools educators to be effective math teachers.

Obenshain, who has been with APS for 29 years, is passionate about the work because she knows that students who build a solid foundation in mathematics in elementary school are more likely to be successful later in life. Her commitment to math education has earned her the 2023 Educator Award from the US Math Recovery Council, a non-profit group dedicated to advancing numeracy education across the country.

The award was announced in March.

“Every role I have had since about 2006, when I first received the professional development offered by Math Recovery, has involved math in some way, and I think that was because that professional development changed my perspective regarding elementary math instruction so dramatically,” Obenshain said.

She currently works at East San Jose Elementary School as a math interventionist. In that position, she models and co-teaches mathematics in general education classrooms, provides small group interventions for students who need them, and delivers math professional development for staff.

The APS Board of Education has adopted four goals for students, one of which is raising math proficiency rates for eighth graders. Obenshain is quick to answer when asked how her work helps with that goal.

“I am quite passionate about the need to prioritize mathematics in elementary school in order to achieve the middle school proficiency goal,” she said. “The work I do supports it because if students don’t receive solid conceptual-based instruction in whole numbers and operations before they reach middle school where the mathematics involves mostly working with more abstract concepts like fractions, ratios, decimals, and algebraic equations, then they will struggle to conceptualize those ideas because they don’t have a solid foundation from which to build.”

This is Obenshain’s second year at East San Jose. Before that, she was a math resource teacher for Title I, and her primary role was to train elementary and a few middle school teachers in a developmental framework for foundational mathematics skills that they could use to differentiate core instruction or provide interventions for their students.

“I started as a classroom teacher for about 10 years – grades K-3 – and then transitioned into an intervention role because I worked part-time a few years due to having small children…,” she said. “The school I was at, Valle Vista, was a school ‘in need of improvement’ (the label at that time) and the state Public Education Department told us that all our teachers needed to be intervention teachers so we developed a plan that I would become an in-district trainer for the Math Recovery professional development offerings to support our staff with improving math instruction and providing interventions.”

Since then, Obenshain has either been a math interventionist, coach, or resource teacher.

“I did veer off for a little while and get my administrative license and work as an assistant principal for a bit where I did try to also provide instructional leadership but ultimately ended up in a resource role instead,” she added.

In announcing the award, the Math Recovery Council’s Board of Directors said it had received nominations from across the country.

“Following a thorough and thoughtful review by the selection committee, Kory was chosen for her outstanding contributions to advancing math education and empowering both educators and students in the Albuquerque Public Schools,” the organization said in a news release.

She will be formally recognized at the next US Math Recovery Council conference in 2025.