Solving Problems at the Math Cafe

Solving Problems at the Math Cafe

Sitting around the tall table in the back of the classroom, students are hunched over a worksheet deep in conversation. They move around the table as they brainstorm until they uncover the solution to the problem in front of them. Smiles and high fives reach across the table. Together, they just solved a difficult math problem.

The Math Café has become a popular destination among the halls of Houma Junior High. The idea for the café came to eighth grade math teacher Melissa Williamson due to her own three sons.

“I have raised three sons who drove some of their teachers a bit crazy with the need to move and their inability to sit still for so long,” Melissa said. “The popularity of standing desks inspired me to create a standing table to allow movement and encourage team work.”

Through a grant from Terrebonne Foundation for Academic Excellence (TFAE), Melissa purchased the supplies needed to build the standing table. The students worked together using math and engineering skills to create blueprints for the table and help put the table together.

As an engineer for 14 years, Melissa said the most important lesson her students learned through building the math café was that math and engineering are never done solo in real life.

“Groups work together at all times,” Melissa said. “I want my classroom to feel like a real work space. In all fields, professionals are encouraged to interact with each other and share ideas. The classroom should prepare them using that same setting.”

The Math Café has become a space for students of all levels to interact – from honors and gifted classes to special education and inclusion classes.

“Discipline problems are almost non-existent for students at the café,” Melissa said. “Students smile, interact, and engage when they are able to share ideas in a group setting.”

Through the use of the Math Café, Melissa has been able to “adopt” several non-honor students into her honors class to see if movement and flexible seating would help them, which it has. All of those students are taking honors math tests now and doing very well.

“The Math Café sharpens students’ social skills and their math skills.” Melissa said. “It’s a win-win!”

New Additions to TFAE Run for Excellence 

Can You Beat Mildred?

After last year’s 5K Run for Excellence, the office of TFAE was left an interesting message on our answering machine. It was Mildred Dufrene and she wanted to know why she didn’t get a medal at the race. Turns out, Mildred was 84 years old and finished the 5K Race in 47 minutes. She was the oldest race finisher. We agreed – she needed a medal!

Our Executive Director Angie Walsh brought Mildred her own special Run for Excellence medal. Seated around Mildred’s kitchen table, Mildred showed Angie her many race tshirts and awards on display. Mildred is a true “firecracker,” a lovely woman who embodies the notion of a positive attitude and a zest for life.

In her honor, we will continue to present “The Mildred Award” as part of our race winning medals. The Mildred will be awarded to the oldest 5K finisher Run for Excellence. Anyone can win it, but you’ll have to beat Mildred for it!

"Angels” Among Us

TFAE is proud to welcome Ainsley’s Angels to TFAE’s 5K Run for Excellence. Anyone with a disability that prevents them from racing on their own may participate as an Angel Athlete-rider. There is no fee to register to become an Angel Athlete-rider. Simply sign up at

On race day, riders are paired with an Angel Runner, a volunteer who has the honor of helping the rider reach the finish line. The Angel Athlete-riders are the core of the team, the person who leads the way and helps everyone cross the finish line with smiles, cheers, and immeasurable inspirational spirit.

To learn more about becoming an Angel Athlete-rider or Angel Runner, please contact For more information on Ainsley’s Angels and their mission, visit

Your Pie Dine and Donate

TFAE raised $2741 at Your Pie’s Dine and Donate event! Many thanks to the Reaves family for hosting TFAE and to all those who donated. The money will be used for our Dolly Parton's Imagination Library to provides books at no cost to families of children under 5 in Terrebonne Parish.

Calling All Young Artists!

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We're looking for artists to feature on lamp post banners to be displayed throughout Main Street. Each banner will be accompanied by a smaller banner with the artist's name and age.

The Books and Banner contest is open to any Terrebonne Parish child, grades Pre-K through 12 and/or ages 4-17. See the attached pdf for all the guildelines. 

Download "Books and Banner Art Contest Guideline"

TFAE Celebrating Success in Terrebonne Parish

Terrebonne Foundation for Academic Excellence held its "TFAE Celebrates Excellence" event May 6 to honor students, educators, and an influential community member for their efforts in education.

Eleven students were given the Distinguished Scholar Award, which honors academic success while overcoming struggles. Each scholar selected their own Inspirational Educator, a teacher who has had a positive and inspiring impact on their lives.

The 2018 Distinguished Scholars are: 
Joshua Fontenot, Bayou Cane Adult Education Center
Erin Rogers, H.L. Bourgeois High School
Tammy Johnson, H.L. Bourgeois High School
Lauren Louviere, Ellender Memorial High School
Breanna Parfait, Ellender Memorial High School
Lane Robichaux, South Terrebonne High School
Victoria Pellegrin, South Terrebonne High School
Ethan Kelley, Louis Miller Terrebonne Career & Technical High School
Dylan Fitch, Louis Miller Terrebonne Career & Technical High School
Jennifer Barrios, Terrebonne High School
Caleb Boudreaux, Terrebonne High School

The 2018 Inspirational Educators are:
Norma Donaldson, Rhonda Rogers, Claudette Kelleher, Melea Eschete, Michelle White, Jeremy Boudreaux, Ann Labat, Nikki Thibodeaux, Chris Brown, Vaughn Luquette, and Julie Bernard. 
The James J. Buquet, Jr. Award of Distinction. This honor went to Charles K. “Chuck” Weaver, the President Emeritus of South Louisiana Bank. Recipients of the award must have graduated from a Terrebonne Parish Public High School, have exuded excellence in a chosen field, and provided service unselfishly to his or her community, state, nation, or internationally.

The 2018 Principals and Teachers of the Years were also recognized.

2018 Principals of the Year:
Cheryl Degruise, Dularge Elementary School
Kelly Burlette, Evergreen Jr. High School
Mark Torbert, South Terrebonne High School.

2018 Teachers of the Year:
Ashley Clement, Dularge Elementary School
Karley Derouche, Montegut Middle School,
Courtney Thibodeaux, South Terrebonne High School

TFAE 5K Run for Excellence

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Where: Downtown Houma, LA

Don't miss the best 5K and after party of the year!

Race registration starts at 3 p.m. Fun run for kids starts at 5:30, and the 5K Run for Excellence begins at 6 p.m. The Food Fest opens at 6:30.

Don't miss the delicious food and beverages while Category 6 rocks the stage.

Get more details and sign up today at our new race website: