Fourth-grade math teacher Jill Buuck gets a lot of questions about the spelling of her last name. “Are you sure there are to U’s?” is what she says she hears all the time. “Yes.” And, “It’s pronounced buck, like the deer,” she added in her matter of fact way. The origin of her last name is Dutch or German and would be pronounced “Book” if she was in Europe.
Buuck is in her first year at University View Academy but has been teaching 14. Five of those years have been in the online world. One of her fellow teachers nick-named her the “Tech Ninja,” and Buuck admits being tech-savvy and always looking for technology to use the classroom. One item she found is called DESMOS. It’s a design presentation using slides that students can write on during live sessions. Buuck calls DESMOS a virtual whiteboard. It comes in handy teaching math, “So I can see all of my students working on the board as we do equations,” she explained. I can’t teach without DESMOS,” she added. It’s also a popular tool with other teachers at UVA, and Buuck has become known as the DESMOS Lady. Mrs. Buuck has an undergraduate and master’s degree from LSU and holds a Leadership License to become a school administrator if she chooses. But for now, she says she’s content teaching fourth-graders math. “We’re knocking it out in fractions, so we’re good,” Buuck said of her students. “I get to tell them why math works,” as she related her teaching philosophy.
Buuck described her own struggle with math when she was her students’ age, admitting she had to have extra tutoring. But Buuck said she promised herself that if she became a math teacher, she would teach to show how it makes sense. “We’re all in this together, a partnership, and breaking down to see one-half is also four-eighths, they can understand the why,” she explained. The DESMOS visuals come in handy in making that connection. And, Buuck’s gotten the ultimate praise a teacher can get. It’s from parents who’ve said they learned a lot after attending her live sessions.
She lauds the leadership at UVA for allowing her to explore tools that can make her a better teacher. The school leaders are “…very supportive and believe in us and push us to our goals,” she said with a source of pride. And, Buuck explained there’s a lot of collaboration among teachers and camaraderie of people who want to work together at UVA. That atmosphere fits her personality. “I’m a people person. I like helping people. Anything I can do to help out, I will,” she offered.