Wesley Royse has posted more than a few impressive numbers over the course of his academic and professional career. Royse was Jeffersonville High School’s 1992 salutatorian. He also played on that year’s final four basketball team. In 1996, he graduated from Centre College with a double major in math and biology. Today, he is the Actuarial Director for Humana’s Central and East Medicare Regions, which encompasses 30 states. He is one of only about 15,000 credentialed actuaries in the United States.
The number that is the most impressive to the students at Thomas Jefferson Elementary, however, is the fact that he is one of 63.4 million Americans who volunteer. In fact, Royse has volunteered for the past three years at the school with the Actuarial Foundation’s Math Mentoring Program.
As a child, Royse attended Thomas Jefferson through 4th grade and wanted to give back to the school. As part of the mentoring program, Royse works with a small group of the top performing 4th– and 5th-grade math students. During the program, he and three other mentors incorporate either Mensa-endorsed games or math units that focus on problem solving.
Royse brings a unique perspective to math instruction in that he, at one time, “really didn’t like math very much.” He adds with a smile, “It took me a while to realize it was challenging and fun.” He credits the math teachers at Jeff High for preparing him for the rigors of higher mathematics. After testing into a Calculus III class at Centre College his freshman year, he decided “it would be useful” to add math as a second major.
Watching the students in Royse’s group interact with laughter and nods of understanding, it is obvious they are engaged. Following the session, Royse states, “It is fun to work with the kids, to see how they learn. I can still remember bits and pieces of what it was like to be in school and how I learned. I try to explain math strategies in a way that clicks for a child.”
At the same time that Royse is teaching strategies to be successful in math, he is also coaching the students how to handle the challenges of life in this 21st-century global economy. “We are competing in a fast-paced, technological world. In preparing for that world, we need to be able to leverage math, science, and computer skills. That’s where the innovations are coming from. We need creative thinkers who can use technology to execute their ideas.”
Royse finds joy in giving back to the school. He says, “When the kids shake your hand and make positive comments on the lesson, they really do mean what they say. This type of program makes it cool to do these types of problem-solving activities. It allows them to bend their minds in solving the problems and to realize ‘he (Royse) actually uses this thought process on the job and makes money at it. Maybe this is something I can pursue.’”