Issue 42 | January 25, 2013 | Featuring Vincent Surges

As a toddler he was very sick with bronchial problems and congested ear canals.  As a student, he learned at a slower pace.  His mother took up home schooling him and decided to put him back two years in many subjects.  Vicki had to work right along side him as he studied. When reading, Vicki would read a paragraph out loud, then he'd read the next one.
He didn't write an essay until the end of 11th grade.  People told his mom that she was doing it all wrong and that it would hamper him later.   Now that he is a graduate of NARHS, he has been offered doctorate programs at 10 different universities including Penn State and Purdue.
Read about our featured student, Vincent Surges. 
INSIDE NARHS: Guidelines for Course Evaluation
When grading a p.e. course, there are three components that might be considered.
First, have the student set goals for him/herself, and let the goals be explicit.
Examples:
Run a 7 minute mile
Exercise at least 30 minutes a day
Increase the repetitions in weight training by a certain amount.
The second component would be to assess the completion of the goal within a reasonable length of time.  Delay of achievement would be grounds for a lower grade.  If the goal was set too high and the student was not able to achieve it after applying obvious effort, break the goal into smaller steps.
Example:
Run a 4 minute half-mile.  After that is accomplished, set the goal of running an 8 minute mile.  Then run a 3 minute, 45 second half-mile, followed by a goal of running a 7.5 minute mile.
The third component, the most subjective, involves the determination of the growth of character or attitude. Maintaining emotional control and a positive attitude while striving to achieve a goal is very important.  You might consider applying these suggested weights on each of the three scores:
Grade for setting reasonable goals   50%
Grade for accomplishing the goal   10%
Grade for growth of character & attitude  40%
Save $50 per student
Use promo code: 50OFF (Five-Zero-O-F-F) at checkout at NARHS.org, or mention this deal over the phone to save $50 on NARHS Tuition when paid by February 28, 2013 and receive a free Log Book or Resource Advisor by mail.  Offer applies to any school year not yet paid for.  Free book may be subject to shipping fees.
Feel free to share this offer with anyone you think would benefit from NARHS!
Offer Expires: February 28, 2013
FEATURED THIS WEEK: Vincent Surges


Photo: Bob King Duluth News Tribune
At one point, Duluthian Vicki Surges wasn't sure if her son,Vinnie, would finish high school.
Surges home-schools her children, and Vinnie learned at a much slower pace than his siblings.
"I didn't push him," she said.
There was no need, it turns out. Surges, a senior math major at The College of St. Scholastica, has accepted a spot in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology aeronautics and astronautics doctoral program in Cambridge, Mass., with tuition and stipend provided. And that's only one of the 10 doctoral program slots he was offered.
Other schools with offers included the University of Minnesota, the University of Michigan, Penn State and Purdue - all highly competitive schools, said Luther Qson, chairman of the mathematics department at St. Scholastica.
Qson said he's never known a student to be accepted into so many Ph.D. programs.
"It's interesting that a pure mathematics major got into engineering programs," he said. "It's the result of the work he did to get summer and fall internships."
Those internships happened to be for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
Surges, whose father David is an assistant professor of Management at St. Scholastica, wasn't satisfied with the idea of pursuing a doctorate in math. He applied to become a McNair Scholar, which is a program for racially under-reperesented, first-generation or low-income college students with high academic potential. Surges' heritage is Hispanic.
The McNair program prepares students for doctoral work through a research project. That research, which he did at Harvard and NASA, set him on a different path.
"By doing that, it changed everything," Vinnie Surges said. "It's almost strange. I'm a student from a small school with no engineering, going into an engineering program at one of the best schools in the world."
During the Harvard internship, which he was offered after being rejected by a University of Minnesota Duluth math internship program, he worked on a solar physics project. That led to the NASA internship. At NASA, he tested software and discovered bugs that hadn't been found by others.
"That was important to them," he said.
Competition for summer research spots has increased four-fold in recent years, said Kathleen Cargill, director of St. Scholastica's McNair Scholars program, and most Ph.D. programs have two to 12 slots for 200 to 400 applicants.
Surges is a quiet, humble, unassuming student - the kind "you'd invite home to dinner," Cargill said. "But when we wound him up, he just went."
Vicki Surges said she noticed her son's math ability when he was 2 years old. She could no longer keep up with him as a teenager when he sailed through pre-calculus. But he saw everything in black and white, she said, and had to be "led totally in the beginning."
"He recognized at a young age that it wasn't just going to come to him," she said. "He's worked really, really hard."
He studied at lower levels in some subjects and higher levels in others, he said, attributing his success today to going at his own pace during his early years and taking time to understand what he was learning.
Surges, who has a 3.99 grade-point average, spent a lot of time in Qson's office asking questions in ways different from other students.
"He had such an internal motivation to really understand the material," Qson said. "He would have determined exactly what about the problem he wasn't sure about - not that he didn't know what to do, but he wasn't certain about the reasoning behind what he did. Most students are happy if they get the correct answer."
Surges said he "wanted to prove to myself that I can do this. That if you spend the appropriate amount of time, you can do this."


This article is reprinted with permission by the Duluth News Tribune, Jana Hollingsworth, reporter


To conclude this great success story, read his mother's reflections on why her methods worked so well for Vincent.


"I have a theory that for many people (not just boys), maturity is the key for achieving educational success.  We can shove all sorts of fantastic textbooks into our kids, but if the right receptors haven't formed yet, it won't work.  Give the student the same textbook several years later and it makes sense. "
                                                                        Vicki Surges