Eagles Nest Intermediate School sixth grade student completes high school algebra course

Sixth grade Eagles Nest Intermediate School student Jehron Smith works on an algebra problem. Smith will complete high school Algebra I coursework at Tuba City High School at the end of April 2015 through Stanford University’s accelerated learning program. Photo/Rosanda Suetopka

Sixth grade Eagles Nest Intermediate School student Jehron Smith works on an algebra problem. Smith will complete high school Algebra I coursework at Tuba City High School at the end of April 2015 through Stanford University’s accelerated learning program. Photo/Rosanda Suetopka

TUBA CITY, Ariz. - Jehron Smith, a middle school sixth grade student at Eagles Nest Intermediate School in Tuba City, is rocketing past the sixth grade math level and taking high school freshman level Beginning Algebra I.

With the support of Tuba City Unified School District administration, he is earning high school math credit in partnership with Stanford University's Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY).

Smith has shown exceptional mathematical aptitude and was tested during the 2013-14 school year for placement in Stanford University's EPGY Redbird Mathematics Beginning Algebra Course.

Smith tested high enough for placement in freshman level algebra under the supervision of math teaching veteran Samson Aquino, who has taught high school algebra and geometry at Tuba City High for the past seven years and been a math teacher for 21 years.

The Redbird Mathematics program is a strand-based curriculum that emphasizes elementary material on sets, arithmetic, fractions, geometry, measurement and pre-algebra. New math concepts are introduced through brief multi-media online lectures. The coursework is set up so students can quickly move through material they already understand and move on to more challenging work they have not yet mastered.

Smith has completed a year's worth of mathematical work in one semester through the EPGY program.

Aquino has only praise and support for his very young special student.

"Jehron is fully disciplined and dedicated to his studies," Aquino said. "He's a real motivated self-starter and he will have completed his EPGY Algebra I course work by the end of this month, April. I am really, really proud of him. He will have learned enough to be able to compete in the Arizona State Elementary Championship in Tucson on May 10."

Aquino said a number of staff members in the district are helping Jehron to excel in his studies.

"From our Tuba City High Principal Mary Francis, who helped partner with Eagles Nest School Principal Dr. Roberson, to our District Superintendent Dr. Harold Begay. To our transportation department, who agreed to drive Jehron over everyday from his middle school to our high school for his class work, and even our food services department who make Jehron a meal every school day and bring it to my classroom so he can have lunch while here, they have all been extremely supportive," Aquino said. "Also, Kimya Stidum, who is the Western Regional coordinator for Stanford University's EPGY program, has helped design a special math program for Jehron."

Smith's Stanford EPGY course work is custom designed for him and includes graphing, linear quadration, expanded functions and also probability and statistical work that will also be included in the Arizona Merits state testing.

Smith's parents, Alberta Nez and Nathaniel Smith, are extremely proud of their son who has now become a scholastic role model for his classmates.

"I'm lucky because my mom and dad are always interested in what I do, they ask me questions about my work at school and they are really supportive of me," Jehron said. "They even bought me a new basketball hoop so I can be outside too, to shoot some baskets and have some fun when I'm not doing school work, but they always say make sure you do your homework first, its really important."

Besides his parents, Smith also credits his maternal grandmother and his aunt Loretta Saganisto, who is a teacher at Tuba City Primary School, for inspiring him.

Smith also says that he has a serious interest in cooking.

"Besides math and basketball I like to cook for my family, since cooking has to do with measurements. I think I make some pretty good spaghetti and my speciality is Ghoulash," he said.

EPGY is an on-going research project of Stanford University that is dedicated to developing computer based multi-media courses in math, physics, English, computer programs and other sciences for students who show high learning aptitude. The EPGY program is for students who can benefit from the accelerated program without leaving their normal school environment and will benefit from personalized instruction at their own pace and is designed around their individual strengths and environments.

EPGY school programs provide implementation services and K-12 courses suitable for students at all ability levels in more than 50 school districts throughout the United States. Large scale implementations include TCUSD, Shelby County School in Tennessee, San Francisco Unified School District in San Francisco, California, Fayette County School in Sommerville, Tennessee and Union School District in Los Gatos, California.

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