Riona R. of Westborough

What do you plan to do on your summer vacation? Our guess, “Not math”. Riona Reeves recognized a growing problem among elementary school students – they weren’t retaining enough information between when the school year ended in June and when it started back up in September. The result was repetitive teaching each fall, meaning less time spent on new curriculum.

Working with St. Bernadette’s School in Northborough, Riona designed SMILE Math, a program which helps fourth and fifth grade students review and ultimately retain the math work they did the previous year. Riona developed workbooks for each grade level, as well as web videos to walk students through some of the more complicated problems. The 42-page workbooks were designed around the St. Bernadette’s curriculum and the new Common Core Standards in national education. In total, Riona wrote 18 lessons, developed 29 web videos and created 614 math problems.

In the first year of the program, St. Bernadette’s School saw 110 students complete the SMILE Math program. As students completed the workbooks, they were submitted to Riona who reviewed each problem and provided feedback to the teachers on “hot-spots” – topics in which students seemed to be struggling. The teachers were so impressed with Riona’s work, that they made SMILE Math mandatory for students, similar to the summer reading program already in place. Additionally, she has been asked to create similar projects for other grade levels.

Riona is a sixteen-year-old Junior at St. Mark’s School in Southborough where she serves as a math peer tutor and library prefect. Riona plays the cello in her school’s music ensemble and is a dual-sport athlete on the JV ice hockey and lacrosse teams. She has been a Girl Scout since age 6, and has now earned the Girl Scout trifecta - the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards.