The math teacher behind the winner

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:16

    WEST MILFORD-He's a math whiz who has the credentials to prove it, but Matthew Webb, West Milford High Class of 2004, owes his capturing national Trig Star honors, at least in part, to his math teacher, Jill Nitkinas. While many people would have trouble spelling trogonometry, Webb had no trouble acing his national exam with a perfect 100 score according to his teacher. He took the title in stages. First winning the state level exam in April. In a complicated mathematics field, even the grading is complicated, said Nitkinas. "All scores for state are tallied and highest score in shortest amount of time is declared the state winner." And, it's not an exam given by teachers. The exams are given by licensed surveyors. Trig-Star is a High School Math Skill Award Sponsored by the National Society of Professional Surveyors, based in Gaithersburg, Md. "As the state winner he was eligible to take the national Trig Star exam which was adminstered in June. The winner took the national exam and he received a perfect score of 100," she explained. She said the test is based on four application problems, each with multiple parts. Some 30-plus states participated. "In July he was notified of the win. "I had him as a junior in advanced math honors class. That's basically a trigonometry and pre-calculus class," said the seven-year teaching veteran of the school district. "He did exceptionally well in that." Nitkinas recalls: "I always liked math. I loved trig and calculus. At this point it's exciting for me to be teaching the math honors class because I enjoy the material. I've been teaching the honors class for four years, and have been in the district for seven. It's my first teaching position." She holds a bachelor of arts degree in math from Drew University and a masters degree in school counseling from William Paterson University. She lives in Butler with husband Erik who also teaches at the high school. "I don't have any major hobbies. I like to read and play with my dog, a Yorkshire Terrier. This year I'm looking for stuff to do as I just finished my masters in May. That was using up my spare time. Asked about going for a doctorate, she replied: "Not yet, maybe someday."