It's no easy feat getting children excited about maths, but Helen Maxey's students look forward to their time with her.

Miss Maxey is the maths support teacher at Gate Pa School, the school sports co-ordinator and the senior school leader. She also teaches in room 14 every Friday.

From Monday to Thursday, Miss Maxey spends her time with four groups of six children who need extra help with learning maths.

She takes them aside and works with the children to help them develop problem solving methods.


It's about making maths contextual, she says.

"I spend the first five minutes playing games to engage them with some basic maths knowledge. Then we do problem solving to make maths contextual, we might be in the field measuring something. It's putting maths in a real world context.

"I always teach with materials, I always get counters or buttons or measuring sticks because what we're trying to do is take it from the page to the brain."

When the Bay of Plenty Times visits, Miss Maxey sits at a group of desks with her group of six. She has a container with coloured ice block sticks, some bundled with rubber bands into groups of 10, others lying loose. Miss Maxey gives the students a number and they race to gather the right amount of sticks.

"Show me 16!"

One of the students has one bundle and five loose sticks on her desk.

"Something's missing, can you tell me what's missing?"

The rest of the group take a look at the sticks, then all come to the conclusion the student needed one more stick.


When asked to describe her teaching style, Miss Maxey gives one word.


She encourages talking between the students.

"I like to get the kids buzzing and talking, it does seem to get a bit loud."

Maths is something a lot of people have trouble grasping, Miss Maxey said. "You don't really hear people say 'I can't read', but there are a lot of people that say 'I can't do maths'."

Miss Maxey was also involved in organising all the school's major sport activities such as cross-country and swimming sports, plus she coaches sports most lunchtimes. She also helps to organise school trips, something she particularly enjoys doing.

"I enjoy giving those children that maybe in a classroom don't shine, giving them that opportunity and a voice to be noticed.

"You get to really see what the children's strengths are, it's the enjoyment of seeing kids succeed."