Determination and Effort Pay Off for Maryland Student

Determination and Effort Pay Off for Maryland Student

SEVERN, MD—Harleigh Dingman is a winner in many ways. She maintains excellent grades and sings in the chorus. As a competitive dancer, she practices seven days a week for at least three hours a day. Somehow, she also makes time to sharpen her math skills on the First in Math site. A lot of time.

 Harleigh Dingman

She plays nearly every night, according to her mother, Tamara Dingman, who is also a teacher and First In Math Team Leader. “Harleigh doesn’t attend my school, but she has heard me talking about the program since she was in first grade,” says Dingman. “This year, the first day she tried it she ended up as the second-place Player Of The Day (POTD), and decided then and there she wanted to be on top instead of second. She has been FIM Player Of The Week (POTW) ever since.” 

The determined Quarterfield Elementary School fourth-grader became #1 in her class, grade, and school, and was the POTW for all 39 weeks the school participated. She ranked #1 in Anne Arundel County Public Schools among all fourth graders and #2 all grades, also ending the school year #4 in the state of Maryland among fourth graders and #13 all grades.

Harleigh set a goal to get on the First in Math National list for fourth graders, which she achieved. She is currently ranked #58. 

But it wasn’t easy. It took a lot of determination and effort to get there, along with support from her family and her teacher, Toniann Shaffer

“School has sometimes been difficult for Harleigh,” explains Dingman. “She reads a whole grade behind and has mild hearing loss. Math had always been easier for her, until she hit third grade and word problems became a focus.”

Fourth grade brought Dingman a whole new appreciation for her daughter’s perseverance, and for the program that helped her. “First In Math has done wonderful things for Harleigh. It helped motivate her. She learned all her math facts, taught herself division, negative and positive numbers, and weight.”

“We love First in Math,” agrees Shaffer. “Harleigh did a great job. She showed great progress in math, especially division, because her math facts were so much easier for her. I am very proud of all her work and determination.” Shaffer gave Harleigh the official First in Math POTW lanyard to keep at the end of the year “because no one else even came close to her record.”

Harleigh says that she still checks First in Math every morning, and if another player is ahead of her she figures out how much more she needs to play to beat them. Even though the school year is over, she plays every day—even on the family’s vacation. 

What’s next? We’re not sure, but Harleigh says she is excited, and already has a game plan for next year. 


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