Students in Mary Beth Hileman’s algebra 2 class Monday learned about pumpkin chucking in the South and applied math to their own devices that will soon catapult M&Ms.
Hileman, who teaches algebra at Lancaster High School, said she enjoys making learning math fun and relevant to her students.
Hileman also enjoys helping her students apply what they learn in the classroom to real-life situations. She ties math problems to athletics and other real scenarios.
“The biggest take away for me is when you have those ‘aha’ moments when students actually start to make connections with not only what you’re teaching but the prior knowledge,” she said.
Hileman was named the Lancaster County School District’s 2019 teacher of the year.
“I was shocked,” she said. “It meant a lot. I was raised to put 110% in everything I do.”
During the teacher of the year selection process, Hileman said she was able to reflect on what she does well as an educator and areas she can grow.
“I was very humbled and very grateful and thankful,” Hileman said.
Hileman said she is “blessed” to work alongside the teachers and administrators at Lancaster High.
“I work in a very diverse school; one of the most diverse schools in the district,” she said. “If you can teach here, you can pretty much teach anywhere. We truly and honestly believe that.”
Hileman started teaching in 2004 at Lancaster High School, which she graduated from in 1999.
“I came back home,” Hileman said.
Teaching is in Hileman’s DNA. Her mother taught cosmetology at the Lancaster career center for 25 years.
Hileman said as a child she pretended to teach in her bedroom, complete with a large chalkboard.
“I used to imagine I had a classroom of students,” she said.
Hileman was also influenced by her teachers growing up.
“I just remember having certain teachers that really spoke to me,” she said. “I knew I wanted to do something in education.”
Hileman holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, a master’s in teaching in secondary education and a master’s of education in educational administration from the University of South Carolina.
Along with teaching math, Hileman is a senior advisor at Lancaster High and assists with school events.
“It’s helping me grow as an educator and grow as a person in general,” she said.
Lancaster High School Principal Rosalyn Mood said Hileman’s district teacher of the year title is “well-deserved.”
“Teaching with Mary Beth isn’t a job, it isn’t a career, it’s a calling,” Mood said. “For those of us who have been in it a long time, what keeps you coming back is what keeps her coming back, which is the love for the kids. She works at what she does.”
Hileman, a mother of four, said she develops relationships with her students and sees them grow during their high school career.
“I think this is probably one of the best jobs you could ever have,” Hileman said.