Ex-Brady High math wizard cited in New York Times article

Bradyite Charles Michael Hallford, 19, now enrolled at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., was one of the select few individuals featured in a recent article of the New York Times. According to Hallford’s mother, Virginia, Charles was selected and interviewed by reporter Michael Winerip because he served as one of the counselors at Southwest Texas State University’s annual math camp. “The reporter was trying to come down and spotlight some elite math camps,” she said. “This math camp has a director, Dr. Max Warshauer, who tries to encourage kids who don’t think they can attend a prestigious college. His mission is to have these math camps which are now surviving primarily on donations alone. Dr. Warshauer arranges for the students to get a scholarship if they can’t afford it.” The first time Hallford attended the camp, three area organizations, the Brady Lions Club, VFW Post 3234 and the Kiwanis Club, raised and contributed money to help pay for the cost of the math camp. “He’s returned every year,” said his mother. “He attended two years as a camper; the next year as a junior counselor; and the last two as a counselor. He has been offered one of the head counselor’s spots next year. It’s not set in stone, but the opportunity is on the table.” The annual math camp at Southwest Texas State University is a six-week long camp where students live on campus. Students begin working on math problems at 8 a.m. and the problem solving often continues until 10 p.m.’breaks included, of course. “It is a truly awesome camp,” said Mrs. Hallford. “The students get to have speakers address them, and they get to go on field trips on the weekends. High school students who are really interested in math should try to attend this camp.” Currently, Hallford is completing two free courses by correspondence with teachers that he met at this year’s camp. “Math camp definitely broadened my horizons quite a bit,” said Hallford. “It was great that when it came time for me to choose what college to go to, I was already in direct contact with several math professors. I was able to get advice and help from them.” Hallford will fly back to begin his second year at Stanford on Sept. 22 and his classes will begin Sept. 24. Currently his major is undeclared; however, he expects to major in math. “Every month or so I change my mind about what major I would like, but right now, I’m leaning toward math.” Brady High School teacher Matt Popnoe, gives Hallford a chance to come back for an occasional visit each year to give talks to his classes. “He lets me come in and give talks about various things,” he said. “I was hoping to do that again before I return to Stanford. In the past, Popnoe and I would set a date and I’d come in and talk to each one of his classes. “One time I did a talk on the research project that my team won fourth place in the Siemens-Westinghouse Science and Technology Competition. Because I was part of a team, we were in the team competition. This research project was something that we did at the math camp at Southwest Texas. “I explained to them the basic idea behind our research project. I did get into some of the technical details of it, however, in one day I wasn’t able to cover the entire research project’I just hit the basics. “The Southwest Texas math camp is unique and different from other summer camps because they really put forth a lot of effort to make the program affordable for the students whom otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend,” he said. Hallford attended the honor student math camp for high school students, but the same organization, MathWorks, provides a junior camp for middle school-aged students. “Most of those are non-resident day camps,” said Hallford. “Those are usually available to the kids in the cities where the camp is being hosted. They do have a two-week long camp for students who are just finishing the seventh or eighth grade.” To learn more about the Southwest Texas State University’s math camps, visit www.swt.edu/math-works. (Editor’s note: The following article, written by Michael Winerip, was featured in the education section of the New York Times and highlights local Bradyite Charles Michael Hallford.) When Dr. Max Warshauer puts together his high-powered math camp for top high school students each summer, he selects several campers with perfect 1600 SAT’s. “We turned away a 1570 SAT this year, because there were three stronger students at the same high school,” Dr. Warshauer said. Many are like Will Nygard, who, by sophomore year, had finished Calculus 2, the toughest math course at his high school in Coronado, Calif. Will got a top score of 5 on the AP calculus test, but says, “Until math camp, I never really understood what calculus was.” Dr. Warshauer needs a very bright staff to challenge such campers, and several of his counselors are math majors from M.I.T., Stanford and Harvard. Each camp day here at Southwest Texas State University is chock full of math. They start with an 8:30 a.m. lecture on numbers theory by Dr. Warshauer (instantly recognizable from his Bermuda shorts, black socks, black tie shoes and corny jokes) and finish each night with a four-hour problem-solving session that often goes past 10 p.m. And Dr. Warshauer, 52, who has X10 times more energy than most people his age (“did I mention that I recently took up competitive biking'”) does not miss a minute of it. Sixteen hours into an 18-hour day, a counselor tracked him down working on a math problem with a bunch of students and interrupted. “Josh really needs to talk to you, Max,” she said. “He doesn’t think it’s possible to get to problem 39 from 24.” “I’m on my way,” Dr. Warshauer said. “Does Josh understand about the distributive property'” It is impressive that so much math does not seem like too much math for these young people. “Too much math’ Oh no,” Will Boney of Austin said. “I just love the way you can take a couple of math problems, sit down and occupy yourself intellectually for a long time.” Across the country, there are a handful of such elite math programs, most run by students of the late Arnold Ross, who directed summer math camps at Notre Dame and Ohio State for 45 years, until retiring in 2000 at the age of 94. Dr. Warshauer fell in love with math for good at the Ohio State camp in the summer of 1967, and for that reason has never given up the struggle to raise the scholarship money to keep his own camp afloat these last 14 years. While he takes students from top private and public schools, he also hunts the brightest ones from small towns and inner cities, children who have never met anyone like themselves until they get to math camp. Elite math programs have been criticized as too white and too male, but half of Dr. Warshauer’s 50 campers are female, a third are black or Latino. As a ninth grader, Margaret McKee wrote in her camp application that she had to get out of Sulphur Springs, where “boys study science and play football” and “girls keyboard and do high kicks.” “My last two science teachers,” she wrote, “have made it a point to let the class know that they do not believe in the theory of evolution because it conflicts with their fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible.” Dr. Warshauer took one look at that essay, and said, “We have to take this girl.” In junior high school in Brady, (population 6,000), Charles Michael Hallford had trouble making a friend. “I guess they thought I was a know-it-all,” he said. “After a while, unless someone else brought up one of my accomplishments, I’d never say anything about myself.” Math camp, he said, “was the first time I met kids smarter than me.” They didn’t mock him; they liked Charles. This caused problems when he returned to Brady. His eyes now opened, Charles wanted to leave home to attend the Texas Academy of Math and Science, an elite public boarding school at the University of North Texas in Denton. “I prayed about it,” said Charles, whose father is the minister of the Brady Gospel Church. “My dad was dead set against it. He said he’d miss me too much. When I said God wants me to do this, Dad said, ‘We’ll see what God tells me about this.'” For a long time the father, the Rev. Charles N. Hallford, said nothing. But Mr. Hallford had seen math camp and what it meant to his son. “I could see the Lord really put it in his heart to do it,” he said. “And sure enough, when I prayed about it, it was the right way for him to go.” Each summer since, Charles has returned to math camp. His senior year, a project he developed at the camp ‘ “Generalization of deBruijn Edge Sums ‘ led to his first plane rides, to Austin and then Washington, to compete in the state and national Siemens-Westinghouse competition. And his fourth-place national finish helped him get into Stanford last year, which Mr. Hallford points out, “is 1,733 miles from Brady.” In the final week of camp, Dr. Warshauer takes aside the seniors and asks where they are applying to college. Last summer Shamika Walker told him Howard Payne University in Brownwood, because it was inexpensive and not too far from home. Shamika was raised in San Antonio by her mother, a mail carrier. “Money was always tight,” she said. “We grew up on the low side of San Antonio, living check to check. So I’d shy away from expensive things like ballet lessons. Math was something I could do in my room.” Dr. Warshauer told her: “I don’t know much about Howard Payne. I’m sure it’s fine, but you ought to be thinking about Harvard and Stanford.” She said, “They don’t want regular people like me,” but what she was thinking was, “If Max says so. . . .” Back home last fall, Shamika filled out her college applications on her own. “My mom’s attitude is: ‘I’m out of school. I don’t remember any of that stuff.’ ” When Shamika stayed up past midnight working on the essays, her mother would yell: “Come to bed. Nothing’s that important.” But something was. In a few weeks Shamika Walker leaves San Antonio for Stanford. She is a little frightened. When she visited the campus in Palo Alto, she noticed all the expensive cars. But she has been to math camp. She knows that Charles Hallford of Brady and Marisol Castillo of San Antonio have done well at Stanford, and Dr. Warshauer has told her, “Shamika, you’ll do great, too.”

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