Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Day in the Life of Matthew Hall Recap

The path to the classroom wasn't straight for Matthew Hall. He arrived in high school with dreams of becoming a professional basketball player. That dream came to a halt when he realized that as a freshman he was, "4'8 and 98 pounds." Then, Mr. Hall thought maybe he'd be a brick mason. As a student at Limestone College, he decided to teach history before settling on a major in math education. At Limestone, he made friends with student who was full of stories of his amazing alma mater, Richland Northeast High School.

"I decided to come down here and see what all the fuss was about," said Hall, who teaches math and is the head coach for the school's wrestling and cross country teams.

Like most Wednesdays, May 6 is a late start day for high schools. After a staff meeting, Coach Hall grabs a quick breakfast organized to thank him and other teachers for hosting University of South Carolina student teachers. Back in his classroom, he begins to prepare for the first class of the day, college prep geometry.

Using his whiteboard, he draws a star. "Is this a polygon?" he asks the class. As he explains the figure's properties, he constantly checks in with students asking, "Are you with me? Does everyone understand?"

Next, groups lead lessons on quadrilaterals. Coach Hall takes a seat up front and peppers the students with questions about their methods, figures and equations. "I appreciate the work you've done here," he tells one group. "I'm very impressed."

Groups in the next class, honors Geometry, also present lessons. Coach Hall has questions for each presenter and encourages the class to follow suit. "Is this a tough class?" he asks at one point.

"Yes!" the class replies in unison.

When a group makes a mistake that jeopardizes the entire presentation, he chides them for not paying attention to the assignment. But adds, "I still believe in you. I know you worked your butts off on this."

It's this firm but compassionate approach that makes Coach Hall a favorite of his students. He joined the Richland Two family three years ago and is the recent recipient of the Richland Two Culture of Excellence Award. His classroom is a meeting place for his students and athletes. Before and after school as well as during his lunch, Coach Hall can be found sharing advice on college admissions, job applications and life in general. Before the day even starts, he's checked in with at least one student to make sure he has appropriate clothes for a job interview and loans him a belt.

In a story in The State newspaper Javier Moreno, the No. 2 wrestler in the state in his weight class, credits the coach with inspiring him to succeed at sports and in academics. Moreno is one of two of Coach Hall's athletes heading off to college this fall on scholarships.

"A wrestler is a person who is upstanding in all things. They're competitive. They're hardworking," he said.

During his planning period, Coach Hall quickly revises a test for his last class of the day, statistics and probability. After the test, the students work on reflections on a carnival games activity. The games, which they designed, reinforced a lesson on the Law of Large Numbers.

Since this is the rare day that no one takes the opportunity to re-take a test after school, Coach Hall ended the day lifting weights with one of his wrestlers. It's all in A Day in the Life!

Below is Coach Hall's day in photos. Visit our A Day in the Life album on Flickr to see more!

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