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Lifelong Learning

Red River ALC math teacher named Vista Center Teacher of the Year

May 29, 2019

Mary Jo Good believes it was her passion for helping young people and her love for mathematics that drew her to becoming a math teacher.

“I witnessed both my parents investing their energy and resources helping young people succeed when I was growing up,” Good said. “My parents were teachers in various districts and colleges, including Moorhead Public Schools and Minnesota State University Moorhead.”

A Moorhead High School graduate, Good earned an associate’s degree from MState and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education from Minnesota State University Moorhead. She has been a mathematics teacher at Red River Area Learning Center for the last five years and was named this year’s Vista Center for Education Teacher of the Year.

Prior to joining Moorhead Area Public Schools, Good taught for a year in Underwood, Minn., she spent 11 years teaching at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy in Fergus Falls, Minn., and she taught for a year in Wadena/Deer Creek, Minn.

“As a math teacher, my first priority is to foster a classroom where my students feel safe and comfortable enough to let me know what they need to learn and to ask any questions,” Good said. “I feel treating my students with respect is the most effective way to teach them to treat others with respect and help them build self-respect. I expect my students to put forth their best effort and want them to become responsible, hard workers.”

According to Deb Pender, director of alternative education, Good is an exceptional educator.

“She is dedicated and passionate about the students she serves,” Pender said. “Her classroom is well managed with firm expectations.”

Red River ALC serves many students who are behind on the required credits to graduate. Good often needs to work individually with her students who are at different levels in their mathematics knowledge.

“Many of my students do not have the skills to meet the high standards that are required,” Good said. “Every goal we set together that they meet helps build their confidence, which in turn helps them to achieve their next goal. Every success they have helps give them hope for their future.”

Pender agrees that the math requirements for graduation are a major hurdle for many learners at risk.

“Mary Jo is patient and supportive as she helps learners build their mathematical background,” Pender said. “I am proud of her work and the contribution she makes to Red River Area Learning Center. She is a true teacher leader.”

In addition to teaching, Good has served on the continuing education committee and the Red River ALC’s school improvement leadership team.

Good said collaboration with her colleagues is vital.

“It not only aids me in making the best decisions I can for my students, but also helps me be the best teacher I can be and assists me in dealing with the challenges that come with my job,” she said.

Photo: Mary Jo Good, mathematics teacher at Red River Area Learning Center and this year’s Vista Center Teacher of the Year, helps a student understand how to solve a problem.

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