This is the type of story I don’t get to tell very often any more. Since I’m no longer in the classroom, my level of interaction with students is significantly reduced. When I do have the chance to speak with a former student, it always makes my day just a bit brighter.
Walking to my office this past Monday morning, a student from my first year in the classroom caught me on my way in. We chatted for a few minutes about life, school, the weird times of 2020, and then she says…
“So, I’m taking Calculus now. And I’m doing really well.”
First, a bit of background. When I met this student 5 years ago, life had thrown her quite a few curveballs. Things weren’t great and she was hurting. She was bright but had little confidence in her abilities.
I was her math teacher and, of course, she told me math was not for her.
What a load of hooey.
All through the year, she rose to every challenge I gave her. The following year, she moved to the advanced math class. And continued on that path into high school. And just to put all the concerns of you non-math folks out there, she excelled in every other area: music, speech, and other academics.
She’s a junior now. When she told me she was taking Calculus, she did so with what can only be described as a “poop-eating grin” (see, I kept it G-rated for you).
Why? Because she knew I would know what that meant.
I honestly have no clue what she plans to do with her future but I’m fairly certain that it won’t have anything to do with Calculus. Or perhaps any other higher-level mathematics course.
But, that’s not always important. Sometimes you do the hard things because they’re hard and you need to prove to yourself that you can do them.
Sometimes you climb the mountain just because it’s there. Just to say you’ve done it. Not because you’re trying to prove anything to anyone else other than yourself.
These are the moments I live for as an educator. This is why I do what I do. To inspire and empower the next generation. To help them believe they can do great and wonderful things.
I hope you do the same.