Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 44
Retired computer programmer and high school math teacher Jerry Knoelke of Innsbrook is the author of "Math is Not Magic." The book aims to help students transform complex problems
into simple arithmetic using the PRESS method which - with the help of his students - Jerry developed.
Innsbrook man simpliﬁes math for all
by Paul Newton | firstname.lastname@example.org
you can narrow it down fast and help them move forward."
Jerry believes his book and PRESS will help eliminate those blank
stares for 90 percent of students across all high school and early college
erry Knoelke just wanted to get rid of the blank stares
gazing at him from the seats in his classroom. "I took high
math courses. While it helps everyone solve math problems, the selfdescribed nerd doesn't preach it to be the be-all and end-all if it means
school math in the '60s and I was ﬁnding we were teaching
stymieing your imagination. "If you come up with something differalmost the exact same things now," the retire teacher says.
ent on your own that works for you, go with that. Your imagination
"We're using nearly the same math books and word problems."
is the most important thing in your life."
After retiring from a position as a telecommunications comJerry says he's probably had 300 hobbies in his life, but today,
puter programmer, Jerry took his interest in education and
math is the only serious one left. With his passions for math and
mathematics to the classroom to teach high school math. In that
teaching, he spent approximately the ﬁrst four months of retirement
time he developed a conceptual process called "PRESS" to help students
understand and solve problems across all math subjects more logically. Since piecing together his book detailing PRESS for students and teachers alike.
Now in its second edition, "Math is Not Magic: Solve Your Math Word Probstepping down from teaching, Jerry has turned that process into a low-cost
book in hopes of helping students and teachers across the world better under- lems" is distributed both online and in bookstores. The book and the program
have been embraced by groups around Missouri to Connecticut and even Ausstand problems through high school and into college.
Jerry realized early on in teaching that some of his high school students were tralia. He hopes in the future to teach the program to college students who will
having difﬁculties with the lessons he was teaching. "After a few years, I would become math teachers.
Jerry priced the 119-page book as
ask on the ﬁrst day 'Who can give me the deﬁnition of math?' All I got was silence," says Jerry, who has Master's degrees in math and education. "How are inexpensively as possible in an effort
to try and reach the most students,
they going to learn or understand something if it hasn't been deﬁned?"
The Innsbrook resident started creating his new mathematical process while parents and teachers possible. The
teaching at nearby Wright City High School. Jerry would continue developing it paperback version of "Math is Not
when he later taught in Hazelwood for a few years. "I got a good feel for schools Magic" is $7.99 while a digital copy
and students from the rural areas to the city," he says.
"I'm a 65-year-old idealist," he
He started developing PRESS around 2010, evolving it over three to four
years. Students responded well to some of the methods tried, while others says with a smile. "I know you're
not supposed to stay an idealist
brought back those blank stares.
His efforts center around making the problem-solving process easier and that long in life, but I still believe I
his ﬁrst step was to translate English into what he calls "mathish." The Cuivre can have an impact. So my philoRiver Electric Cooperative member realized the mind thinks in pictures. "If I say sophical goal continues to be that
'house' to you, do you picture the word spelled out or an actual house? Once if everyone gives more than they
take, the world will be a paradise.
you see that, the word problem turns into a jigsaw puzzle you want to ﬁnish."
Picture is the ﬁrst step in PRESS. The program then teaches students to Let us all do our best."
Record the numbers, create Equations, Substitute what you were given and
For more information on "Math
Simplify for your answer. "Now you've taken an abstract word problem and conIs Not Magic" you can visit www.
verted it into arithmetic which they understand," he says. "It works great."
Jerry says PRESS can especially help students who may not have the highest conquermath.center or call Jerry
marks in their math classes by pinpointing the speciﬁc area where they may be at 314-607-1998. To purchase
struggling. "If a student tells you they can't solve a problem that's too general," the book, visit your local bookhe says. "But if they can say which speciﬁc piece of the process they stopped at, store or ﬁnd it on Amazon.
RURAL MISSOURI | APRIL 2018