Flashback five years. It’s the second day of the seventh grade. All of us preteens have half the attention span but twice the arrogance now that we’re no longer the runts of the school. I’ve already heard loads of summer gossip, but quite honestly, I’m just glad I have half a tan and some new clothes to show off. Still adjusting to the new block scheduling, I’m sitting in my second period class working on the day’s assignment, already feeling overwhelmed by this new concept they call pre-algebra. I want to turn around and ask my friend George a question, but the teacher has forbidden us to talk. This man is not exactly what I would consider approachable either. He’s a short, squat, middle-aged, and his most definitive feature is his hair… all of it. The hair on his head is thick and dark, but styled into a neat, military-style crew cut. Even sitting in the third row, I can tell that his nostrils could use a trim though. As a matter of fact, the hair doesn’t stop at his head. During his lecture, I was distracted by strands of the stuff poking out from between the buttons of his pit-stained polo shirt. His arms are coated with an innumerate amount of follicles, leading a trail all the way down to the afros on his knuckles. Little did I know that those hairs would become quite a familiar sight between the keys of my calculator (don’t even get me started on pi(e) day). Growing increasingly frustrated, I decide to muster up the courage to ask my question anyway. With my textbook in the crook of my arm, I approach his desk in the back of the classroom. Meekly, I address the teacher to inform him that I would like some help because I didn’t quite understand part of the lesson. The pen in his hand halts mid-stroke, and slowly he raises his head. Upon closer inspection, I can see more of those thick, dark hairs sticking out of his ears. He looks over his coke-bottle glasses to stare me straight in the eye as he says, “Were you paying attention during the lesson?” “Yes, I just didn’t quite understand…” “If you were paying attention, you would understand it. Now go back to your desk and actually try to figure it out.” Alright, monologue over. This is the story how my math teacher made me cry on the second day of seventh grade. Not only was I humiliated and horrified for the rest of the year (there would be one other incident in which I would break down into tears because of him), but this single event in my life would define the way I viewed math for the next four years.
Traumatized, I developed an intense hatred for mathematics. Confusing as it may sound, I’m actually really good at math and would consider it to be one of my better subjects. Nevertheless, the discipline of facts and figures, equations and inequalities, and logarithms and laws was something that I loathed with every fiber of my being… that is, until I met Professor Morris. As I mentioned in my last post, I am a dual-enrolled high school student, meaning I take college classes in order to satisfy my high school graduation requirements. When I found out that I would be taking a college-level math course, I was so petrified that I almost dropped the class before even showing up for the first day. Well, that first day changed my life. After meeting Professor Morris for the first time, I could tell how understanding and compassionate she was as an educator. Every single step of every single problem that came out of her mouth suddenly made sense, whereas it hadn’t before. It was in her class I that I received my first 100% on a math test in years… and it would be followed by 6 more over the course of three semesters. After finishing up my college algebra class with her, I went on to take statistics in the spring and precalc/trig in the summer with her as well.
Today was my last day of class with her, as I will be moving on to take calculus in the fall, so I wanted to give a token of my appreciation. In order to demonstrate how much of an impact she’s made, I decided to make a collage of all the test and quiz scores that she managed to help me achieve over the past year; after all, none of it would have been possible without her. Plus, in order to prove that I learned in her class, I gave her π… for those of you who aren’t familiar with the unit circle, half of a pie. Call me a suck up, but Professor Morris has allowed me to feel confident about math again, and this was my way of trying to express my gratitude.
Here’s to all of those that influence our lives subtly by day and monumentally in hind sight.
Love & Summer,