When John Piniat first came to Potter-Thomas Promise Academy in 2010 he knew that he had to make a positive impact on the students in one way or another.
Piniat is a math coach at the school in Fairhill, located at 3001 N. Sixth St., and formed the Mathematics Olympiad Club shortly after being hired. The club allows fourth- through eighth-grade students to test their mathematical knowledge while competing against other students from across the country.
Through this club, Piniat said he hopes that students at the Promise Academy can become more proficient in mathematics.
“The thing that they always say to me is that they really want to improve their math,” Piniat said. “They’re really enthusiastic about getting better.”
Students in the club are split into two teams comprising of fourth- and fifth-graders and sixth- through eighth-graders. The teams meet once a week in Piniat’s classroom to practice and once every month for the Mathematics Olympiad competition.
During the competition, each student answer five higher order problem-solving questions and five PSSA questions. The scores are then input online and they are able to see how they performed in comparison to other students.
“It’s not just about having them figure out what nine plus nine is but to develop the logic and skills needed to succeed,” Piniat said.
Piniat said he also recognizes that there are other benefits to the program besides gaining proficiency in mathematics.
“The community is kind rough for the kids so the longer that they’re in school the better off they are,” Piniat said. “I just do whatever I can to make their days better.”
Piniat said that he hopes to get all of the Promise Academies in the Philadelphia area to establish the club.