Mom-daughter duo shares classroom NORTH -- Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro

TEACHING TANDEM

February 10, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

It's Monday morning, and a fifth-grade math class at Spring Garden Elementary School in Hampstead is confronting the mystery of measuring angles with a protractor.

Their teacher is Miss Raver.

Their teacher is also Mrs. Raver.

This class has two teachers. And not every child figured it out right away, but Mrs. Raver is Miss Raver's mother.

For the past two years, the mother-and-daughter team of Beverly Raver, 64, and Beth Raver, 40, have taught together four days a week in Miss Raver's classroom of 10- and 11-year-olds.

"I give her Fridays off," Miss Raver laughs.

The arrangement gives the children an unusual amount of individual attention.

And it gives Mrs. Raver, a retired teacher who taught in Manchester for 33 years, a chance to keep her hand in the work she loves while having more free time.

"The neat thing is that Mrs. Raver, being a retired teacher, has all that experience, said Principal Larry J. Bair. "We're just very fortunate having all this experience working with our children."

Monday through Thursday, Mrs. Raver volunteers half a day at the school. She helps with social studies and other subjects, but she spends most of her time at Spring Garden teaching math.

Miss Raver said it is a good arrangement.

"I think it's made me a better teacher," she said. "The parents think it's great."

Mrs. Raver said, "Parents have come up to me and thanked me for being in here."

In front of a math class, the two operate as equals. Mrs. Raver stands at the board demonstrating the use of a protractor, while Miss Raver works the crowd, asking students questions about what Mrs. Raver is doing.

Miss Raver said, "I treat her exactly as I would a colleague. If she makes a mistake, we work it out."

She admits that, if there is ever a small disagreement or if one corrects the other, "The kids think it's hilarious."

In the classroom, Miss Raver said, the two refer to each other only as "Miss Raver" and "Mrs. Raver," unless they are specifically discussing a family activity, such as a holiday dinner, when a "Mom" might slip out.

Miss Raver said the children take their teachers' relationship in stride. She said, "They react to her the same way as they do to me -- no big deal."

Mrs. Raver said one boy put her to the test when she stepped in help out with a social studies class on Maryland history. He thought she could teach only math.

She said he asked her, "Do you know what you're doing?" She explained that she'd been teaching Maryland history for 33 years, and he said, "Then I guess you're OK."

Mr. Bair said the Ravers' personal relationship hasn't affected their work.

"I don't think the concept of mother-daughter has entered into it," he said. "I've known both of them for many years. They're both very ethical people."

The pair have lived together in Hampstead since Mr. Raver died 13 years ago. Often they spend hours at home planning lessons.

Miss Raver said, "It's kind of nice to have an experienced, older teacher to bounce ideas off of."

Mrs. Raver helps out with grading and other paperwork, freeing time for extra preparation.

"I think I'm very lucky," Miss Raver said.

She said the class is studying Australia, complete with Australian cooking and other activities. Without her mother's help, Miss Raver said, "I just wouldn't have the time to do it."

Modern teaching methods are more hands-on, Mrs. Raver said. For example, math is no longer taught straight from books. Instead, teachers use a variety of "manipulative" tools such as straws and lima beans. With these activities, she said, it always helps to have an extra pair of hands.

Mrs. Raver said one highlight of team-teaching has been the chance to see her daughter in action. She discovered that the daughter she thought was quiet is an animated, enthusiastic teacher.

In addition to living and working together, the two have spent summers traveling the world. They have been to Australia four times and have visited Indonesia, Japan and much of the Far East.

Spending so much time together, don't they get on each others' nerves?

"We do, every once in awhile," Miss Raver said. "We both have tempers."

But they've had years to get used to each others' styles, she said. "We think almost alike."

Mr. Bair said he sees no drawbacks to the arrangement.

"It just helps kids, and that's what we're all about," he said.

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