Developmental Math Hotline

Developmental Math Hotline

1 employee
2 years in business

About this tutor

My name is William J Downey, but my Dad was Mr. Downey, so just call me "Jed."

From 2008 to 2012, I was the Mathematics/QEP Coordinator at Bossier Parish Community College, specializing in Developmental Math (Basic Math thru College Algebra). 

I hold a Bachelor's in Mathematics from LSUS, and a MA in Adult Education w/specializing in Adult Education Institution Effectiveness & Assessment. Additionally, Pearson Education MyMathLab was central to my master's thesis.

Overall, I specialize in high school / college preparatory mathematics. 

And, for honorable mention, I am also a muisician/songwriter (country/rock/r&b) ;-)

I, like probably 90% of the learners I help, was a non-traditional student. I hadn't really applied myself during high school and pretty much felt pre-destined 'Least Likely to Succeed," to be honest. Bottom line, all I wanted out of high school was OUT...but without considering the consequences. 

Then, some years later - as too often reads the tale - by the time I was in my late 20's, a veteran, wife & kids, working nights as a truck driver--for better or [hell of a lot o'] worse--I became interested in doing more with my life than being perched behind the wheel of a crude oil tanker. However, every single career interest required a degree or, at very least, special certification; and almost nothing in my academic track record suggested I'd succeeded at anything other than shooting myself in the foot back in high school. 

ANYONE can succeed, regardless of whether his or her parents could or couldn't, and no matter what anyone else says to the contrary; no matter how we tear ourselves down. All it takes is desire, perseverance, but also the humility to know when you're in way over your head and probably won't make it alone. Early on, I made the mistake of assuming that if something didn't come to me naturally, such as a school subject, it simply wasn't meant to be; even in my first semesters in Bossier Parish Community College, as a student prior to working there, I dropped more courses than I care to admit based solely on that idiot mentality. Although, had it not been for a good handful of fantastic professional Adult Educators at BPCC, most of whom were, themselves, bedfellows with the plight of the non-traditional college student, my passion may have not turned to teaching. But I did. I could have gone on to become a brain surgeon, or a lawyer, actuary or even a petroleum engineer, after earning my Math degree. Instead, though, I chose to work/teach in education (and driving the crude truck now and then, as well as's no myth that education pays peanuts) because I CAN; and if I can-anyone can. 

Finally, though, if asked what I enjoy most about teaching, it's learning; new approaches etc. Just as being a good follower attributes to being a good leader, being a dedicated learner attributes to being a dedicated teacher. 

I love helping my fellow man/woman get from where they've had to be, to where they need to be. I understand the importance, and I learned the hard way. 

Thank you

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Haughton, LA 71037
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What is your typical process for working with a new student?

My personal Good Business ethic maintains that it is ESSENTIAL to first, before any monetary bargaining:

-Proper mutual introductions/share a little background. Get a first-impression; can we work together; will we be a good fit/respect one another?

-Establish what it is we hope to achieve during a session and or subsequent sessions. What is the end goal?

-Is the student genuinely committed--but struggling, or  merely searching for a silver bullet?

a) Have you actually been to class this semester? If "yes," great, next question...; if no (quite often being the case with college students), why not? 

**If classes have not been attended regularly (or at all) for the duration of the sememster--IF, for not but lack of motivation/commitment--please take your buisness elsewhere.

It won't be difficult--finding tutor who is willing to take your money in exchange for a "miracle," and who doesn't mind being cussed out when it the miracle doesn't fit. 

-Emphasize that the tutor/student relationship involves money changing hands; so always make sure he or she (or the parent) is getting EVERYTHING they're paying for; be vocal/proactive, Yourself. I'd much rather be read the Riot Act than merely written off and reviewed poorly. Mutal comfort, attention, and openness to voicing each our opinions, are all key. 

What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?

BS in Mathematics LSUS  (2007)

MA in Adult Education NSU (2011)

Quality Enhancement Plan/Developmental Mathematics Coordinator, Bossier Parish Community College (2008-2012)

Extended tenure substitute teaching high school/middle school math (Algebra I/Geometry) (various eras)

Do you have a standard pricing system for your lessons? If so, please share the details here.

For Developmental Math (High School Equivalent Algebra I,II and Geometry/Trigonometry)

If the goals discussed are clear for both parties, "garden-variety," if you will, then my rate is generally $20/hour (*stopping the clock as needed for unavoidable AFK (Away From Keyboard; br breaks, gotta take out the dog, check the pot on the stove, etc) 

If, however, there exists ANY ambiguity or unusual circumstances, as such that an hour-long session would present undue stress or too hastened a pace for the student, I often prefer a 2-hour session for $15/hour. Actual instruction shouldn't exceed 2 hours, due to diminishing other words, most attention spans are math-resistant after 2 hours. 

**For Calculus I, II, III, Colleg Algebra/Trigonometry, Statistics; same criteria previously mentioned: 

$30/hr or $25/h for two-hour block


*Life goes on for anyone learning or working from home. Students pay for time spent learning math, so I stop the clock during these moments. Getting one's money's worth is important. 

**Availabilty subject to advance notice

How did you get started teaching?

Early spring, 1972, my parents were coordinating efforts in the Congo for the development of a vaccine for malaria. Due to a series of devastating events, amidst mounting unrest and eventual uprising of the test subjects, both met their end; my mother via dysentery, after confusing insulin with a corrupted batch of serum, just days after Father had been brutally torn limb-from-limb by a pack of virally-modified simians. After whatever staff remained had been hunted and slaughtered, and the beastly mob dispersed, I, only but an infant, lying naked in the jungle--but not alone. I was rescued and raised by wolv....well, wait, that may not be entirely accurate; let me start again.

During my late 20's, I decided to go back to school, orginally, to pursue medicine. Of course, once I had several semesters under my belt and had swapped majors half a dozen times, I realized that what I really had a knack for sciences other than biology. In fact, it was the mathematical aspects of every science which I found most fulfilling. Naturally, my interest led to tutoring my peers and classmates all throughout college. But what really made the most significant impression were my instructors, all of whom were dedicated to being 'real,' if you know what I mean. They were career junior college instructors/professors who could have very well, or even had, worked at 4-year universities. Yet, they taught here. Albeit I'm sure they all had their own reasons for staying with "the farm team," but no matter. The impression they left with me has lasted for close to two decades, and still remains among the most positive and memorable. Ultimately, I left the pre-med pursuit and focused my energy toward teaching. Sure, I might have made a great doctor (and would have most certainly been a more lucrative decision, staying with medicine), but I don't believe I would have ever developed the same magnitude of passion for it as I have in knowing I've helped someone to feel more self-confident; I'm someone who knows all about overcoming low self-esteem. So, that's why I started teaching-lock, stock, and barrel. 

What types of students have you worked with?

I tend to gravitate toward the learners who, either by society/powers that be or even by their own opinions, family/career, or even disability, have been deemed the underdog. It's not about being a hero; Lord knows that saving myself is toil enough. Rather, it's about proving to someone that they have been underestimated. Mind you, my grandfather once told me that it was no fun to prove someone wrong. What he meant implied providing inalienable evidence contrary to another's beliefs in a manner solely intended to cause them undue public embarrassment, just for the sake of 'I told ya so." Well, perhaps, 'I told you so' applies here too, but, again, in a way that's constructive. If someone says you cannot do something--and you believe it--it still isn't fact; not if someone can prove otherwise. I like being that someone, because it helps everyone to be better, in general. By helping others, you help yourself. It can even end up being nothing more than a painful lesson in humility. Nonetheless, what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. Living is learning--they go hand in hand. For better or worse, to live (not to be confused with 'to exist') is to discern and solve a continous, and everchanging array of equations. From that perspective, we're all master mathematicians, most just don't know it.

So, rather than digressing further into the philosophy of the human condition, I generally prefer students with some, sometimes unusual, degree of consistent obstacle(s) that hinder their efforts to overcome their math curriculum. The more complex the backdrop, the greater the likelihood that they are better-versed at thinking outside the box than your typical, seemingly unchallenged, math student. That's one of the many cool aspects of mathematics--most processes are known according to theorem, and can be proven beyond doubt, IF you understand how a principle works, frontwards, backwards, side-to-side, top-to-bottom. When this is the case, it also means the approaches and perspectives available to you, while not infinite > the 'only one' method employed by an overwhelming majority of classroom teachers repeat like a broken record. The student(s) who THOSE teachers consider their problem students--the ones who flat refuse to be assimilated into society's one-track-mind collective...

Send me those students--the quicker, the better--because, with all due respect, Mr/Mrs. Jones, you're guilty of holding up a beautiful mind. 

Describe a recent event you are fond of.

As I have mentioned, I worked as a long-term substitute, teaching high school Algebra / Geometry, at an inner-city high school in northwest Louisiana. When I first arrived, it was approximately a third of the way through the Fall semester, yet these freshmen/sophomore students had been deemed--refraining from too many politics--'the ones predestined NOT to succeed (at any cost; at least it will always remain my impression, and that may or may not have been legitimized by comments made by various key persons of authority). All told, I was hired as day care and to administer benchmark tests as instructed. 

Well, I'm just not wired that way. You see, I too think outside the box, whether it is yet evident by my testimony. The tenured teacher, according to faculty rumor, had suffered a nervous meltdown during class before resigning on the spot. I was the 3rd replacement in under 3 weeks. I'm not going to sugar-coat it. These kids were textbook bad. In fact, the bad amongst bad, many of whom comprised a section specifically designated for students with learning or social difficulties, which had been dissolved in order to save money. 

Anyway, the class was a well-rounded mixture of plain, good ole fashioned, concentrated misbehavior...and with every right to be, pardon my opinion.  Nobody likes being sorted and passed around like a bruised piece of fruit; never given a chance, assigned a lump-all stereotype. Kids have feelings and pride just like anyone else. 

There was a difficult adjustment period for me; I'm not going to lie. I got angry, maybe alot. But no matter how frustrated I may have been as a disciplinarian, it waned against the injustice transpiring, tying my hands. So, I too rebelled, but in a positive and constructive manner (compared to what the school was doing, doing anything at all that resembled teaching would have passed for constructive...).  I purely suspect, only, that the classes were meant to 'fix' the current improvement initiative so a "tried but we need more money to do it better this time" could be logged. My kids were the intended casualties. Again, I stress that this is only my impression, and that I hold no evidence of fact. It's simply how it seemed-convincingly. 

Anyway, over the next month or so, those kids and I began learning. Gradually, the yelling and misbehaving that I'm sure could be heard from down the hall turned to laughter and cheering (sometimes singing :-)  or rapping something about math) and just having a fun time...doing math. Young men and women who'd been brainwashed into believing they were stupid and incapable of 'regular' math were doing trigonometry, Pythagorean Theorem, and systems of equations in 3 variables, from doing adding whole numbers for the first 3 weeks of the semester. They started doing phenomenal on benchmark tests (one class scoring better than the magnet program). I actually even got calls from two mothers thanking me for helping their sons or daughters brag about how fun school has been last day or so. The rebellion was surviving :-). 

As you can imagine, I start getting visits and classroom audits from counselers who still insisted the kids weren't capable and asking me questions that were clearly 'why not be a team player-flavored'. And, eventually, they informed me I was being replaced by a former alumni. 

My fond memory: Besides seeing those kids light up while doing trig problems in front of the 'enemy counsellor.' The day I told the kids I would be leaving. Many of them, 14 to upwards of 19 or 20 years old eyes welled up, and it was all I could do to keep from following suit. I'm not a hero, but for two months, I had been able to get through and provide the chance, and I think they all knew it. That is the only reason why it's a fond memory. All said and done, I'm sure it made things worse for the students. But, on the whole, I had made a positive difference where it had been blue-in-the-face insisted that no good could be brought forth. So, in that regard, it will always be a dear memory. 

What advice would you give a student looking to hire a teacher in your area of expertise?

Be for real, be honest with me and with yourself. Don't wait til the last minute, hoping for a miracle. Miracles happen every moment, but they won't happen the day before the exam if you've yet to crack a book or darken the door of the classroom (or been there but asleep). Bottom line, if you gut tells you that the test tomorrow will look like Portugreekanese to you, then you can imagine how trying to sell me on your salvation is going to sound. 

Don't be so quick to give up. Maybe, I'm just saying that to keep you paying me? Not even close. I'll know in the first half-hour if you're intent on hiring me again (and maybe if I'm even interested if you do). But it takes time and patience, and an open mind. If I run out of tricks, I'll be proactive and forthcoming. Deceit is bad business no matter how you slice it. My words and actions are my business card; but it's the same for you. Give us both the chance needed and deserved before throwing in the towel. 

What questions should students think through before talking to teachers about their needs?

They should definitely bear in mind that the teacher (or anyone, for that matter) hasn't been inside the student's head for the past however long the issue has been stewing. It's news to them, in most cases. So, check the tone, determine whether they, themselves, would be blindsided or offended being asked or told what they intende to say to the teacher. Anger and defensiveness begets more of the same, hence, is counterproductive. So, perhaps, it should also be counterintuitive and worth preemptive consideration. 

That said, however, I would encourage any student to stand his or her ground. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Be heard, be counted. That elder of the two will one day, possibly, depend on the younger; we reap what we sew. But, yes, be clear and well-spoken, albeit respectful. 

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