Former West Henderson math and science teacher, Martin Talbert, recently collaborated with his wife, Donna Talbert, to create a series of SAT and ACT preparation courses for students throughout Western North Carolina.

Catering to requests from multiple school administrators, the Talberts launched the new program at West Henderson, which would offer additional support and practice for students who planned to take standardized tests during the school year.

“Various administrators came to me at the time and said they knew we did prep courses for many years at other schools,” Martin said. “They asked us if we could start a program to help students here at West. It developed over a few little sessions. Then after I retired, when we moved back here to this county a year ago, we got approached to start doing a whole series of them for both SAT and ACT preps.”

According to Martin, the program will be focused on the students at West. The Talberts often prioritize the school’s needs, in order to better support its students.   

“My wife and I work for WRESA (Western Regional Education Service Alliance) and we teach classes telling these kids what to do all around 18 counties,” Martin said. “West is our preference. Whenever anything comes up, we give them first preference to whatever the dates and the times are.”

In terms of the program’s course schedule, the Talberts ultimately decided to designate each day of the week to a different area of focus. While Saturdays are spent introducing the tests, the rest of the week is divided between various subjects, based on the sections of the tests.

“We do six hours on Saturday and two on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. The class on Saturday is just introductory,” Martin said. “It introduces everyone to the test, gives them a look at what it’s about and includes a lot of test examples. Then on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, we go really in depth. I do the math portion, while my wife does the language and writing section. On those three days it’s more advanced. We get into the tougher problems and ones that require a little more advanced math. That way, it’s differentiated for different students.”

Martin said the courses have been extremely successful so far, and have provided many benefits for their participants.

“Students come back and say that they’ve seen a bit of improvement. Now, don’t come into it thinking that you’re going to come in and get a 200 point jump,” Martin said. “Most of the time, you’re expected to get around a 100 point jump in your scores. That’s typically what we’re seeing and what they’re getting back.”

In addition to score improvement, the program can also provide guidance in terms of college acceptances.

“A lot of the kids come in and say they want to get into a specific school. So we sit down and talk to them about where they want to go. Then we pull that information up on College Board, look at their schools and find out what the average SAT or ACT score needs to be in order to get into that school,” Martin said. “So, we actually provide a little guidance and help for the students in that way.”

The Talberts said their main motivation for continuing the course is the abundant impact it makes on the students of West Henderson High School.   

“We plan on continuing this for a very long time, because we want to see students succeed,” Martin said. “We also want to see students be able to go to school where they want to go to school and do what they want to do. It helps us immensely and really makes us feels good.”

By: Marissa Detwiler, Staff Writer

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