Thanks to the guidance of College of Education Professor Xin Ma, the Winburn Middle School MathCounts team had a strong finish in the 2008 Kentucky State MathCounts Competition.
Ma, a professor of mathematics education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, coached the team beginning in November 2007. He led one student to a third-place finish in the Countdown Round of competition and two students to top-17 finishes in individual rounds. In regional competition, one student claimed first place in the Countdown Round, the Winburn four-member team took third place and four students finished in the top 17 in the individual rounds.
“What I am so proud of is that we had the youngest team,” Ma said. “These students are all 6th and 7th graders competing with 8th graders. I see great potential for Winburn to have a super performance for next year’s competition because this year our team was so young yet performed so well. With these students advancing to 7th and 8th grades next year, I am very confident that they will be even better prepared for next year.”
Success did not come without hard work. Ma conducted a weekly practice session leading up to the regional competition, then special two-hour sessions were conducted for the State qualifiers.
“It is because of Dr. Ma’s interest and willingness to coach that Winburn was able to form a MathCounts team,” said Winburn Principal Tina Stevenson. “He made a commitment to coach the students and challenge them to think and compete at higher levels. Thanks to his hard work, structured practices and high expectations of the students on the team, I have many who can’t wait to get started again next school year.”
Ma’s desire for community outreach led him to Winburn and the relationship obviously was a good one for both Winburn and the University of Kentucky.
“I feel truly blessed by this coaching and outreaching,” Ma said. “The past few months with these students have been one of the most exciting and rewarding times of my life. I simply cannot tell you how exciting and rewarding this has been to me. I have never been so proud to bear UK’s name in the community.”