Amory High School Math Bowl Team
Eric Carpenter, captain
Amory High School Scholars Bowl Team
Jason Goudelock, captain
Thirty-three-year Amory High School math teacher Ruth Griffith examines the trophy won by the team she coached to a first-place finish in the Itawamba Community College Math Bowl. Team members, from left, Leigh Abney, Eric Carpenter, Jason Goudelock and Manda Tibbett look on.
By Monique Harrison
AMORY – Math teacher Ruth Griffith has a special place in the heart of senior Manda Tibbett.
After all, the 18-year-old has taken algebra, trigonometry and calculus classes from Griffith for three consecutive years.
So when Tibbett learned that the teacher of 33 years was retiring from the Amory Public School District this year, she knew she wanted the teacher’s last year to be a good one.
“Some of her students said they wanted to win both the Math Bowl and the Scholars Bowl,” Tibbett said. “We thought that would be a really nice way for her to finish – a sort of retirement present.”
Griffith received that retirement present this spring, when both the Amory High School Math Bowl Team and the Amory High School Scholars Bowl Team walked away with first-place finishes in regional competition.
The math team pulled off a particularly impressive feat, missing only one of about 27 problems worked during the state tournament, held at Itawamba Community College.
The Scholars Bowl team also won handily, leading by 200 points in one round. All questions are worth either 10 or 20 points.
“They did very well – better than any other team we’ve had,” Griffith said.
Griffith, who plans to stay active in education despite her retirement from the school district, said the strong showing of the two teams is touching.
“They told me this was going to be my retirement present, and it’s a great one,” she said. “After doing something for 33 years, it’s good to know you are leaving with a good feeling. I feel like I had a really special group this year. They worked hard, and I’m very proud of them.”
She has been coaching the school’s Math Bowl team for 17 years, while she’s overseen the Scholars Bowl Competition for seven years.
In the Scholars Bowl, Griffith has had two first-place teams. She’s lost count of her school’s Math Bowl wins, but does know they were first-place winners in 1989 and 1992.
Her approach to coaching the Math Bowl team is rather unique.
“We don’t really practice,” she said, smiling. “My philosophy on the Math Bowl is that it gives students an opportunity to show what they have learned in school … I believe if students have a strong background going into the competition, they will do well. And apparently … it works.”
Several students said they felt Griffith had done a good job preparing them for college-level or workplace math.
“I’ve learned a lot of math the past three years,” Tibbett said. “She’s a good teacher. I mean, I might read something in the textbook and not understand it. But then, she gets up and explains it – just for a few minutes. After that, it’s usually pretty clear to me. It’s a real talent.”
Math Bowl team captain Eric Carpenter agreed.
“She’s a good math teacher,” said the senior, who has tentative plans to major in computer engineering. “Coming in, you know you are going to learn. My math background is strong. That’s one thing I don’t think I’ll have to worry about going into college.”
“I think it’s safe to say she is one of the top math teachers in the state,” added junior Jason Goudelock, the 17-year-old captain of the Scholars Bowl Team. “I really wish she was going to be around next year. I was lucky to have her for math.”