10-year-old Lena Draper found help from her local police department’s Facebook page when she got stuck on a tricky math assignment and Lieutenant B.J. Gruber went above the call of duty to help the fifth-grader finish her homework assignment.
The inquiry began with Lena’s simple question to the police department in Marion, Ohio: “I’m having trouble with my math homework. Could you help me?” She received back an auto-response from the Facebook page advising her that the police station does not monitor that particular mode of communication 24/7 and telling her what to do if there was an emergency or if she needed to speak to an officer. One would expect that the exchange would have ended there, but Lieutenant Gruber decided to help.
A few hours later, he checked in on his normal task of managing the Marion Police Department Facebook page and decided to offer his assistance.
Lena told the officer she was stuck on the equation (8+29)x15. He helped to explain that you do the work in the parentheses first, so she should start with 8+29=37, then multiply 37 by 15 to get the correct answer.
She went on the ask for help with a slightly more intricate equation, (90+27)+(29+15)x2, and the officer offered his assistance again.
Inside Edition interviewed young Lena and her mother, Molly Draper, when Molly’s screenshots of the conversation started gaining attention on Facebook. When asked why she asked the police department for help, Lena replied “I saw [the Marion Police Department] on YouTube, when a boy, a first grader, called the police with a problem… I thought they would know math, and they do.”
When asked about helping Lena, Lieutenant Gruber said, “This is probably the most unique message I’ve ever had.” He went on to tell Inside Edition that these interactions are the “… exact environment we try to nurture—this sense among children that not only can you come to us if you have a problem at home or at school, if we have the time, we can answer homework questions too.”
The police lieutenant is a father himself, to four children, and was happy to help a young student out. “I love the idea of feeling like we’re meeting needs within the community… I love kids.” His concern for Lena did not stop after their Facebook conversation ended. He plans to “surprise [Lena] at school… with a T-shirt and other goodies to show the police department is supporting her every step of the way.”
Lena’s mother was impressed with the care of the police officer as well. “I’m glad they took the time, because they have other things to do, but I thought it was fantastic.”
The Facebook page has seen a jump in activity since news of Lena Draper’s homework request spread. Their page posted a statement on Tuesday welcoming new friends to the page and pointing out that “a quick check of our page will reveal that this is really just who we are as a Police Department.” They continued: “We are deeply connected with our wonderful citizens and they are incredibly supportive of their Police.” The post also mentions numerous community impact events including “Cops, Kids, Cookies and Cocoa,” “Hotdogs and Heroes,” and more. They add, “We are a department filled with great people who work in a community comprised of great people.” This police station was even invited to the White House last July because of similar efforts to impact their community.
The post continued: “What’s important is that an environment has been created in this community, quite deliberately, that nurtures a sense of connection and belonging and trust … We are active in the community, from parks to schools and everywhere in between.” The post ended with, “Thank you Lena for feeling comfortable enough to come to us in a time of need, as doing so has brought such great attention to our deserving community.”
In a time where many communities are experiencing tension between police officers and citizens, this story has to make you smile. Lieutenant Gruber was not acting as an anomaly on his force, but continuing their constant efforts to reach out to their community—even if it means math tutoring.
If you noticed that the lieutenant’s help on the second math problem was wrong, you are not alone. To be sure that my explanation was correct, I consulted with my favorite middle school math teacher for the scoop on how to complete the equation the correct way. Here is her work to help you out:
First, remember the order of operations. PEMDAS reminds us to start with Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition and Subtraction.
Remember, within the MDAS steps to work from left to right. M and D should be done left to right, even if it means changing their order. The same works for A and S, work left to right even if subtracting before adding.
Step 1: P-Parenthesis first
Step 2: M-Multiplication next
Step 3: A-Addition last
Correct answer: 205