Florida Student Shares His Passion for First In Math

Florida Student Shares His Passion for First In Math

PANAMA CITY BEACH, FL—Nine-year-old Kurt Pfahl, a student at Breakfast Point Academy, has been involved with First in Math Online since first grade, but these days the newly-minted third-grader is busy generating a lot of buzz about the innovative math program throughout Bay District Schools.

Kurt Pfahl with Bay District Schools Superintendent, William V. Husfelt
Kurt Pfahl with Bay District Schools Superintendent, William V. Husfelt, in 2018.

His father, Chris Pfahl, describes Kurt as very competitive, and says it was natural that when he began using First in Math’s digital-gaming format his desire to win would become a dedication to excellence. Kurt set ‘having the most points in his class’ as an initial goal. He accomplished that objective with relative ease, then adjusted his aim toward being #1 in his school. He hit that target, too.

“After that, Kurt told me there was a family-involvement option called Family Link and asked if we could team up and try to be the best Family Team in the entire District. I reluctantly agreed, but I had no idea what I was getting into,” laughs Pfahl. Their partnership culminated in both Individual and Family Top 10s within the District, and a #2 State and #8 National Ranking among all second-graders. 

At the same time, something else began to happen. Something magical. “Kurt’s favorite thing in the world to do is play basketball, which is great because it allows me to spend extra time with him as the coach of our local beach recreation league,” explains Pfahl. “I walked into basketball practice one day and asked my son and another boy to get off their tablets and start warming up. They asked for two more minutes to level-up on First in Math—that’s when I knew it was serious.”

Pfahl says that he saw math become a cool competition between kids who were not overly interested in it before. “Soon soccer players who had never played it started to use it and compete. When others saw my son succeed—and have fun—a very unique mix of athletes and scholars began to compete and learn. This program gives all types of kids an opportunity to interact with their peers in a positive way about math.”

When asked if he could give any advice to new players, Kurt answered like a true competitor: “If you want to get stickers quickly, go after VIF’s (Very Important Facts) and under the Bonus Module try the Estimation game. You can jam out a lot of stickers on those.”

Pfahl credits Kurt’s First grade teacher, Renee Miller, for sparking his early interest in math, and applauds Bay District Schools Mathematics Instructional Specialist, Cylle Rowell, and the entire team at BDS for bringing First In Math into the curriculum. “My son is a good student in mathematics, but this app has made him a great student.”

Editor’s note: Rowell was in the early stages of discussion about organizing a district-wide FIM event and award ceremony for this year, but that event will be delayed due to local devastation from Hurricane Michael. She is encouraged by the level of involvement First In Math can generate, and remains excited to help students and promote math achievement in the community.


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