Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Thanks, Mrs. Thomas

When I was young, I was into reading, big time. I read everything I could get my hands on. I remember setting my alarm clock for 5:00 and 4:00 in the morning when I was in elementary and middle school, just so I could have a couple of uninterrupted hours of reading time before I had to start my day. That's how into reading I was.

Anyway, at this same time, my younger brother (Brother #1) was establishing himself as the family math whiz. I noticed how good he was at it, and (as often happens with siblings) I was terribly jealous. Secretly, I would do extra math homework, hoping that if I just did enough extra problems, it would cause the magical math switch in my brain to click on, and I would gain genius-level math skills, while still maintaining my exceptional reading prowess. When my efforts failed to produce this result, I determined that I would probably never have a very good aptitude for math, and after mourning this for awhile, I went on my way.

I continued to struggle with my math classes, having a particularly hard time in Pre-Algebra. I did marginally better in Algebra, but by the time I started high school, I had pretty much consigned myself to a life of math mediocrity.

And then everything changed.

My 9th grade Math teacher was Mrs. Thomas. Now, I don't know if she didn't realize or chose not to notice that I had some math struggles. All I remember is that as she taught me, Mrs. Thomas made me feel like an absolute geometry genius. It was as if I could do no wrong in her class. Suddenly I was writing theorems and postulates and doing proofs as if I was born to do nothing but geometry. I'd never felt more secure in my (math) abilities before. I felt brilliant. It was absolutely wonderful.

I went on to further math conquests from there, eventually taking Trigonometry, and College Level Statistics and Calculus, earning A's and B's in each class. Now, twelve years later, I'm an accountant*. I work with numbers all day long, and anytime anyone here at the opera needs to figure something out that requires algebra, they come running to my office as fast as their little legs can carry them. I think about that sometimes, and the fact that it all started to happen because one teacher took the time to give extra encouragement to one single student. Wow.

I'd like to get in touch with Mrs. Thomas and thank her. Trying to track her down however, has been kind of tricky. Apparently, she retired a few years ago, and moved. I think she moved to California, but I'm not positive of that. Regardless, California is kind of a big state, and so that's about as far as I've gotten so far. I've tried google-ing her, I've tried calling the School District Office, and I've tried calling the High School. So far I've been unsuccessful in tracking her down. But I'm not giving up. Actually, part of the reason I'm even posting this is because I know that there are Cedarians (and transplanted Cedarians) who read this blog. I'm hoping that one of you will know a little more about the whereabouts of Mrs. Thomas than I do.

As for the rest of you, well, I guess I just felt like sharing.

May you all have a nice rest-of-the-day,


*In case you are wondering, Brother #1 took his genius math skills and became a structural engineer.


Jeri said...

I wish I had had a Mrs Thomas in my life - I'm still a math flunkie... Oh well, I've gotten by alright for almost 40 years, I guess another 40 won't kill me:) (As long as Tim agrees to be the parent helper when it comes to math homework...)

Tonya said...

I am so glad that you had a teacher like that in your life. I, on the other hand, would like to thank the male or female that created the calculator. Without them, I would need a LOT more fingers and toes ;o)

But seriously, teachers like that have such an inpact. I sure hope you find her.

Jeff said...

I had mrs. Thomas in High School as well--maybe even the same geometry class. I agree, Mrs. Thomas was a fantastic teacher. However. . .I am still most definitely not a math genious. bummer. Great teachers can only do so much.

Harmony said...

I had Mrs. Thomas also. I even wrote a glowing recommendation for her for some kind of teaching award. I don't think she won it, but that was in no way her fault. She was the best math teacher I ever had, and one of the best teachers I've ever had, period. In fact, I think I probably have a gift for math (it's genetic--my dad and my grandpa were both accountants), but all my math professors in college were so terrible compared to Mrs. Thomas that I took as few math classes as I possibly could and still get a degree. I've lost track of Mrs. Thomas too, but my mom might be able to give you some more clues as to where she is--and those are genes I didn't inherit. I'll ask her and get back to you.

Kimberly said...

I had a math teacher like her once upon a time as well. It was such a neat experience, finally beginning to grasp the concepts that had eluded me for years.

And then the next year? A wee little man whose handwriting I couldn't read and whose heavy vietnamese accent I couldn't understand. Yep. Hello English major.

I got a giggle out of you setting your alarm clock so you could read. I tended to stay up till those times, then grab a few hours of sleep before school. My poor mum thought I had an iron deficiency because I was so tired all the time.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...