OBERLIN — Years of research, two Emmy awards and extensive experience in the Cleveland Schools have made scientist and mathematician George Viebranz knowledgeable about the intricacies of Ohio’s public education system.
This year, Viebranz is coming to the Oberlin City School District to take on what he believes will be his final challenge — working with the school district to improve the performances of middle school students in math and science.
The district recently hired Viebranz to work on renovating the math and science curriculum for Langston Middle School. The overall student performance in the math and science departments has not been improving as quickly as it has in other schools in the district, according to Oberlin Schools Superintendent John Schroth.
“(Viebranz will) bring a new focus on math and science construction,” he said.
It’s a suitable final challenge for Viebranz, who spent eight years researching education at Michigan State University and won two Emmys for educational math- and science-oriented television programs he worked on.
“Many of the things going on in Oberlin resonate with me,” Viebranz said, citing the close connection between Oberlin College and the school district.
Viebranz believes that middle school especially is an important time for students to develop an understanding of math and science. Students who don’t feel proficient in math and science at younger ages might keep themselves from pursuing certain careers in the future.
“Students will automatically close doors for themselves,” he said, adding that the workforce has changed in the past few decades and more jobs require employees to be proficient in math.
In the coming school year, Viebranz plans to work with the school district to identify the primary problems that middle school students are facing in math and science and find ways to support students who are struggling.
“Even the best mathematicians had to learn to struggle,” he said.
Viebranz said he’s prepared for the job, which embodies a lot of what he’s worked for throughout his career.
“I’m looking for one last challenge, one last opportunity … to really address what’s been my life mission,” he said.