OPS TLA | Profiles
OPS TLA Math in the Middle
Virtual Middle School
For Tom Gamble, math is his comfort zone. A former sixth grade teacher at Wilson Focus School in Omaha Public Schools, Gamble finds that working with numbers relaxes him, both at work and at home.
“I like the feeling of solving a problem or finding a solution to a difficult concept,” he said.
As the son of a Marine Corps officer, Gamble was raised with a strong sense of discipline. This focus – paired with his mother’s example of leadership and professionalism in the banking world – greatly influenced his teaching style.
“I have always enjoyed working with others and helping them to become successful. I can remember the first time, back in sixth grade, when I was asked to assist others. The feeling of helping a younger student understand a concept felt good,” Gamble said. “After struggling through two years of computer science in college, I came to the realization of how much I missed education and made the change to elementary education as my major.”
Throughout his years as an educator, Gamble has taught fourth grade and sixth grade and also spent five years as a technology facilitator. He has put multiple technologies at the forefront of his classroom. Now, Gamble teaches for the OPS Virtual Middle School.
“Technology has always been a big part of my teaching, connecting me back to my original studies in college,” he said. “To be successful in our evolving society, we must teach our students to be successful with current methods and technologies.”
At Wilson, teachers departmentalized, so Gamble focused on language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. Gamble worked closely with his sixth-grade colleague and fellow cohort member Maggie Douglas who aspires to become a district leader. Douglas said she found that Math in the Middle has improved her planning, rapport and overall instruction.
With his graduation from the Math in the Middle program and earning a Master of Arts for Teachers in August 2015, Gamble has gained insight and experienced growth.
“Personally, I have gained a new understanding of what I am capable of. This program has allowed me to look within myself and see that I can accomplish tasks in the face of adversity,” the teacher since 1996 said. “Professionally, I have become a more effective mathematics teacher. I have taken a long look within myself and at the methods I previously used to teach mathematics. The program has helped me to modify and streamline my teaching, communication and understanding of teaching middle level mathematics. All educators must be willing to further themselves if they are going to encourage students to do the same.”
by Natalie Pfeifer