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ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A SEVENTH GRADER?
PreTeen Takes College Math Course

Steven Black in Danville Community
College class.

DANVILLE, VA, October 25, 2010 â€“ Are you smarter than a seventh
grader? Thatâ€™s the question some Danville Community College
students may be asking themselves since 12year old Steven Black
joined them in the classroom. Steven, a seventh grade student at
Danvilleâ€™s Sacred Heart School, is enrolled in the four credit
math course  Precalculus with Trigonometry.
Steven, who is uniquely gifted in mathematics, has taken all of
the required courses he needs for junior and senior high school
math and is now enrolled in the more advanced DCC class. Steven,
smiling takes all of the attention in stride, and says he
prefers swimming, playing soccer or playing video games.
The son of David and Karen Black of Danville, Steven showed
remarkable abilities in math practically from the day he was
born says his mother.
â€œI have two very bright kids, but Steven, ever since he could
talk, already knew math and especially math concepts,â€? Karen
remembers. â€œHe could understand math concepts as early as age 3.
He wouldnâ€™t have to think about it, he just did it.â€?
Karen explains that Steven would start counting by threes and
before you knew it, he was well into the thousands with his
counting.
â€œI knew in preschool I was better at counting because then most
of the kids could only count to 20,â€? Steven says.
Sacred Heart School Principal Kim Meadows says they began
tracking him in math as early as first grade when he was on a
third grade math level.
â€œHe just started accelerating. This is my one true gifted
experience and we wanted to be sure the choices were right for
him,â€? Meadows adds.
By the second grade, Steven was in fourth grade math. In the
third grade, Meadows said he took the Johns Hopkins School and
College Ability Test and scored in the 99th percentile in math,
and the 83rd percentile in English. This also was remarkable
since he was being tested with students who were two years
older. Next he took the Orleans Hanna Algebra Prognosis Test and
scored 100 percent.
â€œAt that point a decision had to be made to move him into higher
math levels,â€? Meadows says explaining that they were very
careful in planning his future course of study. By the fourth
grade he started Advanced Algebra I with the schoolâ€™s eighth
graders. Sacred Heart is accredited by the Commonwealth of
Virginia and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools,
and their math instructor is secondary certified.
Deborah Kitzmiller, who taught Steven Advanced Algebra I,
Advanced Geometry, and Advanced Algebra II/Trigonometry at
Sacred Heart, says â€œOver the last three years I have worked with
him, I have been amazed at his mathematical ability. It is like
he looks at it and learns it. While teachers teach a class,
Steven only has to be guided. In my 37 years of teaching all
levels of math I have seen really good math students, some
advanced math students, but Steven is the only really gifted
math student I have ever encountered.â€?
Meadows contacted the State Department of Education
certification experts to recommend a course of study for Steven
to keep him on an advanced track and yet receive the credits he
needed for graduation and maintain his high school grade point
average. At the end of the sixth grade, Meadows then contacted
Averett University, where Dr. Steve Ausband , Vice President of
Academic Affairs, and Dr. Don Ethington, Professor and
Mathematics Department Chair , developed a plan for him to take
post secondary math courses.
â€œHe needed a precalculus course next, and we discussed online
options, but decided he would take the course at DCC over the
next year,â€? Meadows continues. â€œHe is taking Precalculus with
Trigonometry now and next semester (January 2011) he will take
Applied Calculus I.â€?
Meadows says the plan is for Steven to eventually take Calculus
I and Calculus II at Averett in Fall 2011 and Spring 2012.
â€œSteven is a well rounded, well adjusted boy, and it shows that
the choices made are the right ones,â€? Meadows says. â€œHe is very
well liked by his peers and well respected by his teachers.â€?
Stevenâ€™s third grade teacher Kira Kania says, â€œWhat makes Steven
so unique is his ability to grasp mathematical concepts in large
chunks through the use of such strategies as independent
contracts and curriculum compacting. For example, an average
student will need to learn what a decimal is, how it is used,
what it means, how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide using
decimals in several different lessons or over a course of time.
Steven was able to understand all of the concepts surrounding a
decimal in one 20minute lesson. That ability is what let me
know that Steven wasnâ€™t just a high achiever, but rather a
uniquely gifted student.â€?
His DCC professor, Dr. Yiheng Wang, says Steven is excelling in
college class also.
â€œHe is by far one of my top students in class,â€? Wang says. â€œThe
other (college) students in class donâ€™t treat him any
differently and welcome his participation.â€?
Wang adds the class is challenging and by midsemester some
students had already withdrawn.
â€œWe have 15 students in the class now,â€? Wang continues. â€œIt is a
math class and for a lot of people math can be difficult. But
Steven is very definitely excelling in the class. I have been
very impressed.â€?
If you ask Steven how he feels about all of this attention, he
will tell you he is enjoying DCC and doesnâ€™t feel any different.
He is driven to his class at DCC on Tuesdays and Thursdays and
then heads back to his school. He adds he hasnâ€™t decided on a
future consider but says he is leaning toward an engineering
career.
â€œI would like to do something in engineering, maybe design
airplanes,â€? Steven says.
Karen, who is a civil engineer with the City of Danville, and
husband David, a physical education teacher at Park Avenue
Elementary School, says the couple has tried to keep things
â€œnormalâ€? for Steven. While he is above average in all of his
subjects, for the time being, they do not want to see him become
a fulltime college student.
How did they prepare him at home? Karen says they took advantage
of special math workshops, online selfpaced math programs, and
regularly used the â€œThink Tankâ€? book series which focuses on
critical thinking skills.
â€œI would not want him pushed ahead in all subject areas because
social growth is important too,â€? Karen explains. â€œI think he
should be challenged, but at the same time I donâ€™t think it
should be so hard for him. I want him to just be a kid.â€?
By his broad smile, Steven seems to agree.
Copyright Â© 2010 by Danville Community College
