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Louise Ortman Serves Up Math

Louise OrtmanIf you’re a fan of Ted Drewes frozen custard, chances are that in the past you were served the delicious cold treat by our new math teacher, Louise Ortman. After all, she worked there for nearly eight years through high school and college. Now, instead of feeding the masses, she’s serving up big helpings of Geometry and Beginning Algebra to some lucky Priory math students.

She knew she wanted to be a teacher during her undergraduate years, when she earned a Bachelors in liberal studies with emphases in psychology and communication from University of Missouri-St. Louis. She went on to earn a Masters of Arts in profession counseling from Lindenwood, took education courses, and began to tutor. Last spring, she took some more teaching classes at UMSL, and completed a practicum at McCluer South-Berkeley. “I decided I liked teaching more than counseling. I am more passionate about teaching, and feel like I am making more of a difference.” She remembers clearly her favorite teacher (History), and also a terrible teacher who failed to connect with her students (AP Calculus). “There are too many bad teachers in the world who won’t help their students,” she said. “I’m not one of them. I want to create a positive classroom environment.”

Louise, the oldest of three girls (who all worked at Ted Drewes), is a good mix of her left-brained father and her right-brained mother. Her two favorite classes were literature and math.

She attended Rosati-Kain High School, where she had an excellent experience. “It’s academically challenging, but the focus is not just on academics,” she said. “A big part of it is just maturing and becoming an adult. All the teachers were really supportive. There’s a place for every student. There were some kids who were popular and if you compared them other schools’ popular kids they would seem really weird. We all loved being really weird.” Louise still revels in her nerdiness. “This summer, I went to Florida.” This sounds like a standard summer vacation until she continues, “I went to Tampa and did AP Calculus training. It was awesome. I’m nerdy!”

She wants her students to know that it’s okay to make mistakes. Her goal for her 7th graders is to get them ready for Priory’s math curriculum moving forward. “I want my students to work, yes, but I also want them to struggle productively. I want them to struggle with math and be successful. That’s the best way to learn. If it’s too easy, you’re not learning. We learn through our mistakes.” She’s using Google Classroom to further connect with her students, and is so excited about the possibilities it offers that she’s introducing other faculty members to the application. She’s already enjoying getting to know her students this year. “I care about them as a person, not just as a student of math,” she said. “It’s about maturing and being supportive of that maturing.”

Louise, when she’s not teaching, loves to read. At the time of her interview, she was reading “A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra)” by Barbara Oakley. She recommends “The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids” by Dr. Madeline Levine, and “Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life” by Dr. William Deresiewicz. The books cover how very high expectations in successful families can cause some stress on children, and how we should promote individuality and genuineness in our adolescents and young people instead of conformity.

She also enjoys baking cookies, and spending time with her two pit bulls, Cholo and Samantha, and Dan, her boyfriend of over seven years. Cholo is a sweet, 85-lb lap dog who loves to cuddle under the blankets, and Samantha is the diva. Louise has a motorcycle license, and enjoys riding her scooter around her South City neighborhood. “I have a real scooter, 150cc, which is a lot bigger than the 49cc ones. It’s still nothing, but it’s bigger,” she laughs. In a nod to her artistic side, she’s decorated her white helmet with reflective and washi tape. She likes to reference her favorite television shows, which include The Office and Criminal Minds. “I’ll have to figure out how old the show is before I reference it in front of my students,” she said. “Some of them are on Netflix now, so they might watch them.” She loves 90s music, especially cover songs, and going to Blues games with Dan.

Louise’s enthusiasm is contagious, and she’s happy to join the Priory family. A young Rebel-in-the-making (he has older brothers here) charmed her with a warm welcome at Rebel Round-Up, and she looks forward to meeting more families throughout this year.

“Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.”

Prologue, 1

“This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.”

Prologue, 1

“First of all, every time you begin a good work, you must pray to him most earnestly to bring it to perfection.”

Prologue, 4

“If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim. (Ps 33[34]:13)”

Prologue, 17

“Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom (1 Thess 2:12).”

Prologue, 21

“If we wish to dwell in the tent of this kingdom, we will never arrive unless we run there by doing good deeds.”

Prologue, 22

“What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace.”

Prologue, 41

“Therefore, we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service.”

Prologue, 45

“The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.”

Prologue, 47

“The reason why we have said all should be called for counsel is that the Lord often reveals what is better to the younger.”

Chapter 3, 3

“Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else.”

Chapter 4, 20-21

“Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when someone needs your love.” –Chapter 4, 25-26

“Bind yourself to no oath lest it prove false, but speak the truth with heart and tongue.”

Chapter 4, 27-28

“Place your hope in God alone.”

Chapter 4, 41

“Respect the elders and love the young.”

Chapter 4, 70-71

“Pray for your enemies out of love for Christ. “

Chapter 4, 72

“If you have a dispute with someone, make peace with him before the sun goes down.”

Chapter 4, 73

“The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience, which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all.”

Chapter 5, 1-2

“Speaking and teaching are the master’s task; the disciple is to be silent and listen.”

Chapter 6, 6

“The first step of humility, then, is that a man keeps the fear of God always before his eyes (PS 35[36]:2) and never forgets it.”

Chapter 7, 10

“Let us consider, then, how we ought to behave in the presence of God and his angels, and let us stand to sing the psalms in such a way that our minds are in harmony with our voices.”

Chapter 19, 6-7

“On arising for the Work of God, they will quietly encourage each other, for the sleepy like to make excuses.”

Chapter 22, 8

“Every age and level of understanding should receive appropriate treatment.”

Chapter 30, 1

“Above all, let him be humble. If goods are not available to meet a request, he will offer a kind word in reply, for it is written: A kind word is better than the best gift (Sir 18:17).”

Chapter 31, 13-14

“Let all the rest serve one another in love.”

Chapter 35, 6

“Indeed, nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God.”

Chapter 43, 3

“Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore, the brothers should have specified periods for manual labor as well as for prayerful reading.”

Chapter 48, 1

“The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent.”

Chapter 49, 1

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Chapter 53, 1

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Chapter 53, 2

“(B)ecause wherever we may be, we are in the service of the same Lord and doing battle for the same King.”

Chapter 61, 10

They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other (Rom 12:10).”

Chapter 63, 17

“We wish this rule to be read often in the community, so that none of the brothers can offer the excuse of ignorance.”

Chapter 66, 8

“Trusting in God’s help, he must in love obey.”

Chapter 68, 5

Never to do another what you do not want done to yourself (Tob 4:16).”

Chapter 70, 7

“No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else.”

Chapter 72, 7

“Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.”

Chapter 72, 11-12

“What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments is not the truest of guides for human life?”

Chapter 73, 3

“What book of the holy catholic Fathers does not resoundingly summon us along the true way to reach the Creator?”

Chapter 73, 4


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Saint Louis Priory School

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