We had the good fortune of connecting with Deirdre Copeland and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Deirdre, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
The thought process behind starting my own business was centered around the yearly struggle parents have with this “new math”. As third graders, we had to memorize our multiplication facts. There was no other way. My teacher would tell us which facts we were focusing on, and we had two weeks to memorize them. Everyone was nervous for that second Friday. We were asked to stand and face the wall. One at a time our teacher would call our name and say an equation. It was like a knockout game. If you answered correctly you stayed in, if not, you were out. Nowadays third graders and upper elementary students are tasked with learning strategies and applying them to solve equations and word problems. There’s no more being forced to memorize facts.
The Math Crate LLC provide parents with skill practice boxes that reinforce what their child learns at school. Each box is designed using the Georgia Standards of Excellence to ensure a smooth transition from school to home.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Since high school I knew I had to be an educator. I enjoyed teaching others and helping them find their aha moments. After graduating from Tuskegee University, I entered the classroom with my eyes wide open, full of life and eager to share my creativity with my students. After about two years, I became discouraged. Learning to teach and teaching are completely different. No course will ever prepare teachers for the real life of the public education system. From the politics to the paperwork, teachers hardly TEACH! Pressure is constantly streaming down the pipeline from the district to the principals, coaches to teachers, teachers to parents and students. How can students be successful if the system is malfunctioning?
The Math Crate was started to bridge those mathematical gaps found in elementary students. With everything mentioned above, at times, teachers are asked to “just expose” students to certain standards instead of fully teach them due to pacing calendars and the excessive testing. Just think, if students in early elementary are simply expose to skills, how can they be successful in math as they progress? The Math Crate provides hands-on activities that students can use to reinforce skills from the classroom. This means once students have been introduced to a skill, but they do not fully understand it, The Math Crate will aid in bridging that gap.
Getting to where I am today was not easy by far. Many times, I allowed the negativity that weighted on me from childhood trauma and self-doubt get the best of me. I would pray and give myself pep talks, but the constant fear of failure was overpowering. I never even thought to go to counseling because growing up in my family, that just wasn’t something you did. I was taught to pray and keep going. Now, I absolutely believe in the power of prayer but now I also believe that God blesses people here on Earth to guide us in the right direction as well. Praying, counseling, and confiding in my framily (friends turn family) helped me and are still helping me overcome these challenges.
I am most proud of myself for actually launching The Math Crate. This was a vision for a few years but again, fear held me back. What sets The Math Crate apart from others is the focus on only skill at a time in each box and the provided video tutorial in all third through fifth grade boxes. It is important to focus on one skill at a time to prevent students from becoming overwhelmed and frustrated. This allows them to learn. Video tutorials are provided via QR codes in all third, fourth, and fifth grade skill boxes to provide them with a visual while completing the activities. Feedback I’ve received mentioned having children watch the tutorial as an introduction before they dive into the activities in the box.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my best friend was visiting the area for a week I would honestly have to consult with friends to find places to take her.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would absolutely love to send a shoutout to all of my work friends, turned family, who constantly pushed me to launch The Math Crate. From tears, trials, fears, and weathering personal storms, my framily (friends turned family), has been with me every step of the way.