Year Honored: 2009Berry Middle School
At the time of the Award, Dilhani Uswatte was:Teacher
Berry Middle School
Subject(s) taught: Mathematics
When Dilhani Uswatte heard about the tsunami that struck her native country of Sri Lanka, her first reaction was to act. As an 8th grade math teacher and chair of the math department at Berry Middle School in Hoover City, AL, Uswatte immediately set up a fund to rebuild a Sri Lankan school that had been devastated in the tsunami, engaging the school community in her efforts. This is just one instance that showcases Uswatte's generosity and proactive approach to education.
Uswatte has founded several programs at Berry Middle School, including Girls Engaged in Math and Science (GEMS), and an after-school Zumba dance class, where she teaches the dance-based exercise program to faculty and students. Uswatte started a free tutoring and help-line for both her current and former students to call when in need of immediate assistance. She also invites community members to her classroom to discuss the ways math is applied in business and various walks of life.
Within her classroom, Uswatte motivates students with exciting learning models. Her students create video generator programs and use digital cameras to create video lessons on different math topics. Students also write "fairy tale" word problems using geometric concepts. Ninety percent of 8th graders at Berry Middle School score level III and IV on the Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test (ARMT). Under Uswatte's leadership as math department chair, the ARMT scores for math increased schoolwide from the 85th to the 93rd percentile from 2007-2009.