CSMCE | Profiles

Marni Driessen presents a lesson to her students

Marni Driessen

Primarily Math

Elementary Math Coach
Mount View and Wakonda Elementary Schools, Omaha Public Schools

Becoming a math coach after Primarily Math has enabled Marni Driessen to “realize my full potential,” the Omaha Public Schools educator said.

“Primarily Math has given me confidence in my teaching of mathematics. I no longer question if what I am doing is going to benefit the students,” the Cohort 2 participant added. “Now I know that with careful and purposeful planning, my lessons will positively impact student achievement.”

OPS created two K-3 mathematics coaching positions beginning in January 2012 with subaward funds from NebraskaMATH. Driessen and fellow Cohort 2 participant Jill House were selected to fill these positions. After starting 2012 as a full-time math coach in her building, Driessen shifted to two high-need elementary schools, Mount View and Wakonda, for the 2012-13 academic year, where she still coaches today.

Jim Harrington, supervisor of mathematics for OPS and member of the NebraskaMATH leadership team, supports the move toward utilizing math coaches. Harrington said, “The Omaha Public Schools believes that coaching teachers is a major component of professional development for classroom teachers. When NebraskaMATH director Jim Lewis approached us with an offer to fund two elementary math coaches, it fit right in with district initiatives to improve math instruction.”

Driessen said the coaching opportunity appealed to her for a variety of reasons. “I love sharing my ideas with others and offering my support,” she said. “I also realized that I gained a lot of knowledge about the teaching and learning of math through the Primarily Math program and thought I could make a difference by sharing my expertise.”

As a coach, Driessen has many responsibilities, including mentor, data coach, resource provider, curriculum and instruction specialist, and facilitator of professional development. “Some typical things you may find me doing include helping teachers plan lessons, modeling a teaching move or strategy, analyzing student work, planning professional development sessions, reading research articles, reviewing data, observing lessons, and giving feedback,” Driessen said. “I strive to support all teachers by highlighting and building on their strengths.”

Originally from Jamestown, N.D., Driessen said she has always enjoyed math. Now in her eighth year of teaching, Driessen was greatly influenced by her second-grade teacher, Mrs. Fix.

“I will never forget the sound of her high heels, the way she passed out papers, or the sweet notes she wrote on my work. More than anything, she cared about me and took care of me in many ways for years. From that point on, I wanted to do the same for other children who needed it,” she said.

Driessen and her husband, Ray, have two sons, Dylan and Caden.

“They are good at math,” Driessen added with a smile.