Saturday, December 3, 2016
Meet my favorite teacher, who also happens to be my daughter. She is a secondary Math teacher and she's brilliant. She gives so much, more than she gets paid or respected for, to help her students SEE that math is important. That understanding math concepts can be the very key to a door of an exciting life and career. With her commute included, she's gone 12 hours every day. She comes home exhausted, but happy. You see, this is her dream. Her dream of helping children. Of making the world a better place. She really should be wearing a cape every day because she is a hero.
When she was little she wanted to be a veterinarian because she loved animals and especially dogs. But that ended when we had to have our dog put to sleep. As a young girl, I don't think she could imagine adding that to her daily or weekly job description. She then started focusing attention on ways to help others. She entered university planning to be a social worker. During the first introductory social work class, she decided it wasn't for her. She loved her math classes where she excelled and had a gift for explaining difficult concepts. In high school, she was in A.P. Calculus and her teacher mentioned one day that he thought she should consider becoming a math teacher, since she seemed to possess an inherent gift for it.
Ultimately she realized she could help more children by being a teacher than a social worker. Social work would take her into the worst of situations, for only a short time and no real solutions at her disposal. She couldn't handle the idea of helping a child only to send them back into the danger they emerged from. Teaching would give her the opportunity to have a daily, positive, encouraging, personal influence on hundreds of students. And she really loved math. She loves math because there is no argument or interpretation. An equation is correct or incorrect. She loves the absolute-ness of it. She also knows that not succeeding at math can be a dream killer for many. Kids that dream of being scientists, engineers, astronauts and doctors need to be good at math.
I watched her sacrifice to get her Mathematics degree. There were 30+ people that began the program in Mathematics Secondary Education and only TWO finished--my daughter and another girl. The program was brutal at her university. Most dropped out and moved to other colleges where it was a lot less demanding, with a focus on only the classes they'd end up teaching Not my daughter. She studied Euclidean Geometry, Number Theory, Analytic Algebra, Calculus I, Calculus II, Calculus III, Ordinary Differential Equations, Probability and Statistics, Modern Algebra, Foundations of Algebra, Linear Algebra, Real Analysis, Foundations of Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Geometry, and on and on. And don't forget the other math classes before this like Trigonometry. She stayed up late, very late, every night and weekends, doing math equations on a white board, sometimes even falling asleep over her books.
But here is the really impressive thing. This girl of mine entered university as a Presidential Scholar with a full-ride academic scholarship. The caveat to this wonderful gift she earned with blood and sweat and tears in high school, now required a 3.75 GPA to keep the scholarship. This might have been easy to do as a social science major or an interior design major, but this little sweetie was a Math major. For four years, with this heavy load of math classes and taking upper division English classes for fun, my hero daughter maintained a 3.8 GPA. She kept her scholarship. She graduated with high honors and many awards.
She was signed immediately to a teaching contract while still doing her student teaching. She did not have to look for a job. The school saw a treasure and they made it theirs, in writing. She began teaching full-time, on a paid contract, immediately after the student teaching was complete, in the middle of the school year. That's when the fun started. The parent-teacher meetings with parents looking her over and asking how old she was. But the students love her. And now they're loving math.
She is helping to #LIGHTtheWORLD with knowledge and excitement for education. She spends her own money on pencils and paper because she believes a child cannot succeed without basic school supplies. She provides a beautiful classroom that smells nice and has inspiring quotes and pretty green plants and makes these kids feel safe. Many students come to sit in her room before school starts just to BE. Because they know this teacher SEES them. They might act like squirrels and even jerks sometimes, but she still loves them. She gives 12 hours a day for them. So maybe they can be an astronaut if they choose, or a bridge builder, or a scientist that cures cancer. She gets paid pennies for what she's giving. But she does it anyway and with love in her heart. Love for her fellowmen and for God who blessed her with special gifts. She knows every child is a Child of God.
Dear Sissy. This is only the beginning. It will take years for you to see the real harvest you are planting and tilling now. But I promise you that it will come. The letters will come from students that say you changed the course of their lives. Some because you helped them find excitement for doing hard things. Others because they knew you loved them and never gave up on them. Some will tell you that you were the only bright light in their lives at a very dark time. Others will remember your smile and your grace and strive to be more happy and gracious. Out of your classroom will come leaders and explorers, scientists and doctors, and more math teachers. I know you're tired. I know they don't pay you what you deserve to be paid. I know that on most days you don't feel like you're getting through to anyone. But it's all about consistency. Every day, more drops to their lamps, more smiles and kindness for kids who might not get it at home, and more hope for a bright future. Because you are helping them to see. To see that problems can be solved, that our brains really do have the capacity to stretch, and that being smart is cool.
I see you. I see what you've sacrificed and accomplished. I see what you're giving. I don't see you in the classroom, but I see you in your determination to serve and to guide. I see your passion for "being the change you wish to see in the world." You are making a difference. I promise. Our society doesn't see you like it should. It pays athletes more than you will ever see in your career. Its values are upside down. This is how I see it. The most noble profession where a person draws a paycheck is that of TEACHING. Without teaching, there would be no science, no technology, no books, no art, no music, nothing beautiful. There would be no space exploration or magnificent architecture. And there would be no medicine, no hope for a cure of any disease.
Please see how important what you're doing is and please see the sparks of light and divinity that you are planting every single time you write on that whiteboard or create a new lesson plan. The glory of God truly is intelligence and instilling a love for learning in children is important to God. It's important to me. I love you. I wish I could be like you: happy and gentle, hopeful and guileless, faithful and obedient, hardworking and dedicated. I see you. Please see yourself and all the good you're doing. And one day the world will see what you've done and will thank you.
I'm an artist and writer. I love to cook. I love good shoes and sweaters and always wear jeans. I love to read and believe books and reading are important investments. Creativity is important, even essential. I am a joyful wife and mother of two children. I am a happy member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My faith is central to my life, marriage, and family.