Whether a day or sleep-away, camp is a perineal part of summer for many families. So today, I introduce you to Joelle Kelenson, Director of School Age Programming for the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia. She uses math, and she doesn’t even run a math camp!

Can you explain what you do for a living?

During the school year I am in charge of managing the before and after school program at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia. The program encompasses 150 children and 30 part-time teenage and college staff. I am responsible for ensuring that our program is up to the health and safety standards of our license, that the children get a healthy snack, training the staff to ensure the well being of all children, that all supplies are purchased, and that all information is communicated with parents. During the summer I switch hats and become the assistant camp director. I develop programming and curriculum for our summer camp, supervise the units heads and specialists and ensure that camp is running smoothly.

When do you use basic math in your job?

I use very basic math in my job like counting how many children are in a room to ensure proper ratios. I also use math to add up staff hours for payroll. In addition I manage a budget of $160,000 so I need to use math to make sure I’m on top it and know where I’m at spending wise.

Do you use any technology to help with this math?

I use a calculator to do my payroll and a formulated Excel spreadsheet to help me manage my budget. I’m also not very good at math so I often use my fingers to count. 🙂

How do you think math helps you do your job better?

If I didn’t use math in my job, my program wouldn’t be up par, we would run a defict and our staff would probably get paid more than they actually worked. Math helps me stay on top of things and manage things.

How comfortable with math do you feel?

Over time I’ve gotten better and more comfortable using math. Most of my math is basic, it was the math of managing the budget that at first made me nervous, but now I’m getting better with it.

What kind of math did you take in high school?

I grew up in Montreal and took advanced math called 436 and 536 in my junior and senior year.  I was never good at math. It didn’t come naturally to me and I hated it, but I worked hard and did well in the classes — except that midway through my senior year, I gave up and barely passed my senior math class. As a result I was forced to drop out of the sciences like physics and chemistry and take more social science classes.

Did you have to learn new skills in order to do the math you use in your job?

I did not need to learn anything new but rather refresh myself on the basics. I did however learn the benefits the Excel formulas and how they are helpful!

Thanks, Joelle, for being our Math at Work Monday interview today. If you have questions for Joelle, ask them in the comments section. I’ll make sure she sees them and has a chance to respond.

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