HS Insider

Michelle Hillberry: a sweet approach to math

Michelle Hillberry is a new math teacher on campus who believes that all students can reach their academic potential. Credit: Carrie Coonan/The Foothill Dragon Press

New Foothill math teacher Michelle Hillberry has six years of teaching under her belt. She has worked at middle and high schools in Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Santa Paula and now Ventura.

As a high school student with an interest in educating, Hillberry took part in an internship program that placed her as a first grade class tutor. She quickly discovered young kids were “too sticky,” which made her realize that she would like to teach older students.

With older students came more challenging classes, but Hillberry enrolled in an AP Calculus course as a senior in high school and “fell in love with the subject.”



Hillberry attended junior college in her hometown of Bakersfield, California and then went on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).

After interviewing for a Ventura Unified position, she was notified about an opening as a Math 1, precalculus and AP Calculus BC teacher at Foothill.

Hillberry happily accepted the offer and felt “super stoked,” ranking her excitement to be a dragon as a “200 out of 100.”

“[I have] high expectations for all students, because everyone can achieve great things as long as they apply themselves, so the standards in my classroom are really high,” she said.

Students in her class agree.

“As new teachers, I feel like the students tend to take advantage of them, but I feel like she’s laying the law down early,” senior Julian Martinez said.

Hillberry is adamant about every student reaching their full academic potential, and believes that a strong mathematical background can help in real life situations, especially with the recent application of Common Core math standards.

“Math is changing a lot [with] the way that we’re teaching it,” she said. “Everyone can do it and there [are] habits of mind that you develop that make you excel in different ways,”



“I want all of my students to believe they can be good at math,” Hillberry said. “So many people come in mathophobic and I just want them to believe they can do it,” she said.

Hillberry understands that it can be intimidating approaching a teacher new to the school.

“I just want my students to know they can come by anytime. Open door policy,” she said.

-Hanna Malco

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