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Idaho State University

Ramey Uriarte: It's All About the Math

By Chris Gabettas |

Spend a few minutes with Ramey Uriarte and he'll draw out your inner mathematician.

Ramey Uriarte: It's All About the Math

"You don't have to be an engineer or a scientist to appreciate math and its place in everyday life. Nothing exists without some sort of mathematics behind it," said Uriarte, who earned a master's degree in athletic administration from Idaho State University in 2007.

Uriarte recently joined the Boise School District as a full-time instructional coach for math teachers. For 19 years prior, he taught math to hundreds of middle and high school students, mentored math teachers and coached volleyball in the West Ada School District, Idaho's largest public school district.

July 1, he was one of 108 public school instructors in the nation to receive a 2015 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. In late July, Uriarte and his wife attended a White House reception honoring recipients and hosted by President Obama.

Ramey with letter

"I was surprised (to receive the award) but incredibly honored," said Uriarte, who strives to make math relevant to kids by encouraging them to think critically and creatively.

It was Uriarte's teaching methods at Meridian's Heritage Middle School - where he combined literacy skills with real-world math scenarios- that clinched the Presidential honor. A 2014 story in the Idaho Statesman newspaper featured Uriarte's use of engaging graphics, storytelling and scenarios to teach seventh graders about proportions, rates and percentages.

"Bringing in real-life applications allows students to do the thinking themselves instead of regurgitating what's in my brain," he said.

Uriarte, who grew up in Burns, Oregon, coached women's volley ball in Meridian high schools and at the College of Idaho while teaching math. Passionate about sports, he also holds a bachelor's degree in physical education from Boise State University-which explains his decision to pursue a graduate degree in athletic administration. A master's degree is an important credential to have should he ever decide to pursue a position as an athletic director, he says.

Uriarte chose ISU's program for quality and convenience-the busy father of three was able to complete the program at ISU's Treasure Valley locations without traveling to Pocatello.

"The program and my professors were good," said Uriarte. "It was challenging trying to balance everything, but I really enjoyed it."