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Kramer shares passion for math, music with local youth PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jes-c Brandt   

As a parent, Maury Kramer has had his share of kids around the house, but even with his own children out of high school, he continues to touch the lives of youth in the Holyoke community.

In 2003 Kramer returned to his alma mater to work with the HHS select choir. At the time, his daughter Desiree was in the choir, and Kramer seized the opportunity to share his passion for music with the younger generation.

Former choir director Pat Wiebers graciously allowed him to help with the morning practices, Kramer noted. And when Marcia Dalton took over as the director, she likewise allowed Maury to continue to be a part of the select choir.

It’s not just Wiebers and Dalton who made it possible for Kramer to be a part of the select choir, he noted. His employer, Atkins Motors, has been very good about allowing him those two hours every week to go to practice, a privilege he is quite grateful for.

Kramer’s main role at select choir practices is to help students learn their parts. From bass to soprano, Maury learns the music so he can teach any part needed, demonstrating when necessary. When the director has to miss practice, Kramer commented, he happily steps in so the select choir doesn’t have to lose a day of rehearsal.

All their practice, of course, leads to performance, and Kramer enjoys seeing the final product of their hard work. In addition to the regular choir concerts at HHS, the select choir has many other opportunities to perform, singing the national anthem at sporting events and entertaining for local functions.

Each year the select choir participates in at least one competition. Kramer has traveled with them to nearby CHSAA contests, and even to some of their more distant events, including one in Breckenridge.

As an additional way to share his talents with the group, Kramer arranges an a cappella song for the select choir every year. HHS concert goers may remember a few of his past arrangements, such as “Heaven,” “Save Tonight” and “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Often choosing a popular song for their a cappella number, Kramer is currently arranging Michael Bublé’s “Haven’t Met You Yet.”

Commenting on the current select choir, Kramer said they have a rather large group this year. While more people means more work, he also noted it means more options for their music.

Over the years, Kramer has seen his children Desiree, Kristen, Karina and Aaron go through select choir. Now the select choir includes none of his own children, but he continues to dedicate his time to the students nonetheless.

Raising children and working with the select choir made it evident to Kramer that working with children is a fulfilling way for him to give back to the community. Kramer said volunteering at a 2006 HHS event, Challenge Day, really reinforced that notion.

Challenge Day focused on helping high school students make rewarding decisions and addressed topics such as respect, peer pressure, self esteem and personal power. After volunteering at the two-day event, Kramer was impressed by what an impact it had and saw there was a need to reach out to the youth.

Since that time, Kramer has used another of his talents to positively impact HHS students. Always a lover of math, he set out to become a math teacher.

He earned an associate degree in math through Northeastern Junior College. He then took online classes at Regis University and transferred to Chadron State College, where he received his bachelor’s degree in 2008. During that time, he also substitute taught math classes at HHS.

At that point, Kramer could have become a teacher as he had intended, but he already had a job he liked at Atkins Motors. He decided then to do some tutoring on the weekends instead. This allowed him to continue his career at Atkins, while also pursuing his passion for math and working with children.

The tutoring started with a few students Kramer knew, who were struggling in their math classes. Now, he tutors about 20 students a week, in Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, college algebra and trigonometry.

Sundays in the Church of Christ building, there are set times for each level of math. The tutoring is set up in a classroom sort of setting, where students work with Kramer and with one another.

Tutoring for the last few years, Kramer has gained experience and learned a lot about teaching others. It’s also become clear that there are many assumptions about tutoring that aren’t true.

The idea of being tutored has a negative connotation, Kramer said. People assume that tutoring is for people who aren’t smart enough to do the work. On the contrary, most of the students Kramer works with are at the top of their classes. Making the effort to spend the extra time on math, he noted, usually shows the student is a driven individual.

Some also might think that students in tutoring aren’t receiving help from their parents. Again, Kramer refuted this assumption. Having been a parent to several math students himself, he noted that sometimes children just learn better when they hear it from someone besides their own parents.

Basically, tutoring isn’t a shameful thing, he said. Many students who are nervous or embarrassed at first quickly realize that tutoring is helpful and nothing to be ashamed of.

Each year he tutors, Kramer also commented, he learns knew ways to teach the same material. He explained that one means of teaching won’t always work for every student, so he likes to learn as many alternative ways to teach a given topic as possible.

With the experience of substitute teaching and tutoring, Kramer started working with the Alternative High School in 2008, under director George Purnell. Now he continues to work there with current director, Clark Ginapp.

Three days a week, Kramer uses his lunch hour to work with the students. He noted Atkins Motors has shown great support for him and the school by being very cooperative in allowing him to take a late lunch those days.

The neat thing about working at the alternative school, Kramer noted, is that he works with every student there and he sees everything from basic math, all the way up to calculus, within that one hour. Another thing he appreciates about the alternative school setting is that the students can work on the math level they need to be working on, and there’s no stigma if they are above or below their grade level.

Kramer and the students of HHS have been mutually fortunate to have these opportunities for Kramer to practice his passion for music, math and working with the youth. “I love getting to know all the kids,” Kramer said, “and it’s fun to see them at school and around town.”