Panelists: Math skills multiply success

Family Math Nights wrap up with forum on math used on the job

Posted: Friday, December 07, 2001

They came from a wide range of backgrounds including a helicopter pilot, a dance instructor and a budget director. But their message was unified: Math is important in any career.

A panel of six residents assembled Thursday evening for a Family Math Night at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School to tell students about their math background and how they use math in their careers.

"I hated math (in school), but it is a key that is needed to do anything in this world, anywhere," said Wells Fargo Personal Banker Treavor Mahle. "It's not something you have to like, but it's needed."

Karen Rehfeld, director of education support services for the state Department of Education, said when she works with budgets it is important to know not only the outcome of a problem, but how the solution was found.

"Being able to interpret it, to see what trends exist from those numbers is really important," Rehfeld said. "Can you explain it to someone else? Can you justify your request?"

Other panelists were dance instructor Janice Holst, fisheries biologist Brandee Gerke, Bartlett Regional Hospital Chief Financial Officer Garth Hamblin and Cmdr. Mike Neussl, chief of search and rescue for the Coast Guard in Alaska.

The event marked the last in a series of four Family Math Nights held over the past month at Dzantik'i Heeni. Organizer Tina Pasteris, a math specialist with the Juneau School District, said the goal is to bring parents and students together to do group math activities in a fun atmosphere, and give parents ideas to take home.

The Family Math Nights at Dzantik'i Heeni are part of the D-Zap before- and after-school program. Site coordinator Kimberly Homme said the family nights should continue in spring with a different topic, possibly reading or writing.

Parent Scott Perkins, who attended with his son Curtis, a sixth-grader at Dzantik'i Heeni, said he appreciated the chance to work together in a fun atmosphere where grades are not an issue.

"It's neat to work with him and see how he thinks," he said.

Andrew Krueger can be reached at

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