Men's Breakfast, November 14, 2015

The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday, November 14th with Ondra Waddy, Brazosport Basketball Coach and pastor of First United Missionary Baptist Church. Ondra is a graduate of Brazosport High School . His interest in math led him to get a degree in accounting and he started working in accounting in Lake Jackson after college. However, he decided that his real interest is in teaching young people so he became a math teacher and basketball coach at Brazosport High School where he has been the coach for about eighteen years.

Ondra also has a calling to the ministry, and has been pastor of the First United Missionary Baptist Church for several years. The church has about eighty members. It is primarily black but there are a few Hispanic and white families. About two years ago they built a very nice fellowship hall.

As an intersection between teaching and ministry, Ondra sponsors the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes. This does not run into school sponsorship of religion because it is a student run club, like a chess club or other club. The Fellowship has chapters, called huddles, on campuses all over the country. There are even college and professional sport team huddles. The fellowship sponsors meetings between different schools . Ondra’s son Isaiah, who was also at the breakfast, described a meeting that he attended at a college. One of the impressive things about the dedication of the members is that the local meetings are held at 7:00 a.m., long before the regular school day starts.

Much of the discussion was about the course that Ondra teaches, Algebra I. Algebra I teaches the language of mathematics, science and technology, and is therefore is a foundation for success in many occupations in our modern economy. This is why when the state decided to reduce the number of tests required for graduation from fifteen to five, Algebra I was left as one of the five. Most of Ondra’s students are freshmen, although he has a few seniors who are still trying to pass algebra. Because all students have to pass Algebra I there is a great range of abilities in the course. Partially this is taken care of by having two levels, regular algebra and pre advanced placement algebra. Some, but not all of the better students, take pre- AP algebra in the eighth grade so that they can take calculus as seniors. Even so, he still has a large number of pre-AP students. One way the slower students can be helped is with additional tutoring. Ondra could have a co-teacher assigned to his classes but has chosen not to do so.

Several of the men at the breakfast talked about their high school mathematics experience. Some liked algebra but disliked geometry and others the opposite. One interesting case was Willy Williams who said that he loved all of the mathematics and physics. However when he graduated he became a cook for twenty years and then managed to become an operator at Dow for another twenty years. This illustrates the effect that discrimination against blacks had when Willy graduated from high school.

The men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast. The next meeting will be Saturday, December 12th.