Math magic
Township teacher makes arithmetic fun through children’s book
by Joseph Passantino
Reporter staff writer
Dec 22, 2013 | 6366 views | 0 0 comments | 93 93 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Math magic
VALLEY OF LEARNING – North Bergen teacher Heather Ricco reads from her children’s book, “Estimation Mountain and the Valley of Tens.” Ricco debuted her tome at the North Bergen Library on Dec. 12.
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Taking a complex subject and making it easier to understand through a storybook is something North Bergen teacher Heather Ricco had a hunch would help her students and other children. As it turns out, her idea was right on, as she debuted her new book on math, “Estimation Mountain and the Valley of Tens,” on Dec. 12.

Issel Arroyo of North Bergen was there with her son, Alex, 8, one of Ricco’s second grade students at the Fulton School.

“We came to support his teacher and also because he struggles with math and he liked the book,” Arroyo said. “The book is going to help him. He understands it. So it will help him.”

Nelly Velasquez, director of math for the school district, attended with her 10-year-old daughter, Arianna.

“It was interesting,” said the student. “That makes it easier to do math, with an imagination. It’s also helpful any time when students can be helped along the way.”

Ricco related that her father was a trained mathematician, and that helped engender the eventual interest she took in the subject.

“So I guess I inherited something good,” she said. “I try to make math interesting and fun for my students.”
“I try to make math interesting and fun for my students.” – Heather Ricco
Her presentation consisted of her reading her creation to the many children and adults attending, as well as an audience participation session with children.

Ricco said she was inspired to write the book by family, friends, and “an overwhelming urge to educate and make learning fun.”

The author took a circuitous route to end up in teaching, first succeeding in the corporate world, working in the fashion, legal, and entertainment industries. She has been educating for 12 years.

The presentation took place, appropriately enough, at the township’s other place of learning besides school; the main branch of the North Bergen Library on Bergenline Avenue.

‘Proud’ officials

Mayor Nicholas Sacco, Interim Schools Superintendent George Solter, and Library Director Sai Rao were all on hand to provide encouragement to the first-time author.

“We are just so proud of all the teachers who have authored books,” said Mayor Sacco, an educator himself. “It’s just a really good thing. You begin to think on another level when you write a book for others.”

“It’s just so great we have this,” Solter said. “It’s just a great achievement for North Bergen and the school district.”

“It inspires the children to write and publish,” Rao said. “It’s also nice for them to see one amongst them succeed, someone they know.”

Background & book

Ricco holds a master’s degree in the Science of Education, and a bachelor’s in English and Urban Studies from Queens College in New York.

She resides in Secaucus with her husband and two children.

To order Ricco’s book online, go to,, or

Joseph Passantino may be reached at

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