Meridian Academy head of school brings math teaching model to Indonesia

TEACHING TEACHERS: As head of school at Meridian Academy in Brookline, Joshua Abrams  advocates teaching students how to apply mathematical skills in answering real-world questions. Now his math curriculum is being recognized and studied in Asia.

Abrams, a math, science, and technology teacher who founded the independent school for grades 6-12 in 2005, recently spent a week in Bandung, Indonesia, where he presented “Promoting Best Practices in the Teaching of Mathematical Modeling” to educa-tional leaders at a conference sponsored by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.  

He also led an intensive, two-day workshop on the process of mathematical modeling, or developing tools and skills with realistic context and purpose, for high school teachers and students. According to Abrams, the secondary school culture in Indonesia has traditionally been based on teachers delivering lectures and students taking tests to show their mastery of the material.

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Abrams was invited to the conference after organizers found his lesson plans online. He said his philosophy originated 30 years ago, when a group of students asked why they had to learn algebra.

Abrams recalled, “A girl told me, ‘This makes no sense and we’re never going to use it.’ To which I replied, very earnestly, ‘You’ll need all this in algebra II.’ But I took her question seriously, even though I didn’t know what to do at the time. With this new curriculum, kids don’t ask that question anymore.”

Abrams said he will be using the Internet to work with Indonesian educators on developing guidelines and resources to retrain the country’s mathematics teachers. He is encouraged by the positive reception he received at the conference from students, many of whom have stayed in touch with him through e-mail and Facebook.  

“This will be a generational change,” Abrams said. “Even though I have grand ideas, my immediate goal is to get the ball rolling.”

MILITARY SERVICE: Wellesley resident David Welch  recently received the Commander’s Award for Public Service from the Massachusetts National Guard in honor of his efforts to provide free tax preparation and financial counseling for members of the armed services and their families.

Welch, managing principal of Fuller Brook Financial Partners LLC in Wellesley, learned about the volunteer program while attending the annual meeting of the Financial Planning Association of Massachusetts last year.  Since then, he has worked with dozens of clients at Yellow Ribbon events for members of the military before or after their deployments.

He said the program “struck a chord” as a way to share his expertise while honoring the memory of his late father, Robert Welch,  a US Marine who fought in World War II.  

“I appreciate the recognition,” Welch said of the award, “but from my perspective, it’s just a good way to demonstrate support and give back to these young men and women who have given so much to us.”

RENEWING APPEAL: Kate Yoder, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Concord Conservatory of Music, said she was “overjoyed and grateful” when her organization received a $25,000 challenge grant from a family involved in its program. It is the largest pledge in the school’s six-year history, Yoder said.

The family’s anonymous grant will match every dollar donated to the school during its annual appeal, up to $25,000.  

“This pledge speaks to the important value that CCM contributes to the community, as a music education and appreciation resource,” Yoder said. “Our hope is that others in the community will be inspired to contribute to our growing and evolving music institution, and enable us to reach our fund-raising goal of $50,000.”  

Through its annual appeal, the school purchases and maintains music equipment and offers faculty performances and classes for local community groups. More than 400 children and adults from Concord and 15 surrounding communities are enrolled in the conservatory’s private, group, and ensemble classes.

For more information, visit www.concordconservatory.org.

ON STAGE: Five local students have roles in the Boston Children’s Theatre production of “The Velveteen Rabit,” which opens Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Franklin Institute of Technology, 41 Berkeley St. in Boston, and continues with weekend shows through Dec. 23.

The ensemble’s production, which includes original puppetry, tells the classic children’s story of a stuffed rabbit’s quest to become real through the love of the little boy who owns him.

The local actors are Joshua Sussman  of Dover in the lead role of Boy, Marshall Joun  of Arlington as Rabbit 2, Marisa Lazar  of Brookline as the Tin Soldier, and Newton residents Tema Siegel  as Rabbit 1 and Miles Levin  as the Puppeteer.

For tickets or more information, call 617-424-6634, ext. 222, or visit www.bostonchildrenstheatre.org.  

TRUSTEE ROLE: Newton resident David Brezniak, founder and a codirector of Brezniak- Rodman Funeral Directors Inc. in Newton, is the newest trustee at Mount Ida College. He will serve a three-year term on the Newton institution’s board.

A fourth-generation funeral director, he is cofounder and past executive director of the National Independent Jewish Funeral Directors of America and Canada, on the National Board of Funeral Service Examiners, board chairman of Beth Jacob Synagogue in Newton, and a member of Temple Beth Shalom in Needham.

In 2005, he was appointed by then-governor Mitt Romney to the state’s Board of Registration of Funeral Directors and Embalmers, and served as its chairman.

WHO’S WHAT WHERE: Needham Bank has named Richard Buttermore Jr.  to the position of senior vice president of research and development. The Carver resident will be based out of the bank’s Needham headquarters; it also has branches in Dedham, Medfield, Wellesley, and Westwood.

Warren Lent  of Medfield was recently elected president of the class of 2016 at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y. Lent, a political science major, was president of Medfield High’s class of 2012.