Hi, I’m Heather Villagomez. I have taught functional math and social skills at Notre Dame School of Dallas for 3 years. I have a dual bachelors degree in Elementary Education and Cross Categorical Special Education from Northern Arizona University. I am originally from Arizona. There I have taught at a public Junior High School in the Autism program and then transitioned to the feeding High School, to create their Autism program. I also worked in homes with families providing ABA behavior therapy. My husband and I then moved to Texas where I taught for one year for Dallas ISD. Due to a lack of support from administrators, I resigned from DISD and became a Registered Behavior Therapist, RBT. I really enjoyed working again with families and seeing the family unit strengthen.
During my time as an RBT, I met Mrs. Kelly Kile, the reading teacher at Notre Dame School of Dallas, who introduced me and encouraged me to teach at NDS. I was excited to become the functional math teacher at NDS. Functional math has always been my favorite subject to teach.
I believe math, especially core functional math skills, is extremely important for all individuals to help them be as independent as possible. My goal is to help teach and prepare each student to be able to function in a community and at a job. This might look like setting a timer or alarm, organizing and counting items on a shelf and counting money to make a purchase or create change.
At NDS, we group the students into groups based by their abilities, not age or grade. This allows me to individualize each students’ math instruction. In our class, we use TouchMath to help with counting, skip counting, number correspondence, addition/subtraction/multiplication; as well as counting money. We color code our clocks to help us see the difference between the hours and minutes. We also use calculators to help with basic math equations. I rely on using tangible manipulatives like counting bears, dice, money, chalkboard numbers, Uno cards, blocks and Playdoh to help with the different learning styles of our students.
Because we use our math skills everyday, I am able to make math meaningful. I’m able to help the students understand why we need to have our math skills and how we use them in the community.
One of my favorite moments is seeing the students understand and grasp the math concepts. Math isn’t easy, but I have learned that being honest and letting my students know when what we are learning is hard, allows them to make mistakes, own their mistakes and learn. And when they can do the hard math, they beam with pride and take ownership of their work!!
Music was a big part of childhood. My mom would help me make up songs to my spelling words and math facts. We sing and dance EVERYDAY in class to some math song! Songs that help us remember the days of the week or months of the year, the names and values of the coins to the hands and numbers in a clock. Having a fun and honest classroom environment, and relationship with each student, helps me keep the students interested and motivated.
I feel blessed to be apart of the NDS family. I am grateful for the amazing support the administrators give the teachers and parents. Like I stated before, I feel passionate about working with families and a since being at NDS, I am able to help and give support.
NDS Intermediate Math Teacher