My family was a family of movers, maybe not shakers, but we were certainly movers. When we moved back to our home town, I thought we were done. Needless to say, I was not pleased when at the end of sixth grade, my parents told me we were moving AGAIN! I followed them to Bryan, Texas dragging my feet. The last six weeks of sixth grade were spent in a new school, not making friends, and being fairly miserable. I took a test to move into the highest math group and missed it by one point. This one test confirmed to me I was terrible in math. The summer was long, but I did make one new friend in our neighborhood.
Seventh grade started at a whole new school, Anson Jones. Again, I was not excited. My bus assignment placed me in front of the most annoying boy on the planet. His main goal in life was to make me miserable. This was a huge school with students divided into four teams. I was a Comanche, which meant we had the white t-shirts with red writing. No one as fair as I am wants to wear white. I did not wear make-up, so I looked like a two year old compared to all the other girls. My Laura Ingalls braids made it worse. My only friend was an Apache, so we did not have lunch together. I figured the year could only go downhill from there. I just wanted to go back to Louisiana.
My math teacher was Mrs. Donahue. She was a by the book, straight-forward, and very strict teacher. She completely freaked me out. I dreaded going to her class and tried to hide in the back of the room. However, she read to us every Friday and O. Henry was her favorite. She laughed through The Ransom of Red Chief and so did we. One day she asked me to stay after class, which made me break out into hives. I was so nervous she was going to ask how someone so dumb in math could possibly be in the second-tiered class.
Instead, she asked me how someone so smart was in the second-tiered class. I told her I had missed the first-tier by a point and I really hated math. She said, “How can you hate math when you are so good at it?” I was confused and quickly told her how I had always struggled in math. Apparently my struggle was I transposed numbers when I copied problems, but I could do the math itself. She said my explanations were some of the best she has ever seen. She said I made connections and really understood the big picture. I thought she was a little nuts, but I smiled. One did not contradict Mrs. Donahue. She told me she wanted to give me some extra work like the top class did. At this point I would have done triple the work, because her praise was like water to a very parched traveler.
The rest of that year I worked very hard in Mrs. Donahue’s class and she turned my mind around about mathematics. She allowed me to help other students, which was the beginning of me becoming a math teacher.
Each year I write a letter to a former teacher during Teacher’s Appreciate Week. I have tried to find Mrs. Donahue, but have been unsuccessful. This is my thank you note this year. Thank you Mrs. Donahue for not only believing in a very shy and insecure red-headed girl, but also for sharing your great passion of teaching with me. Your confidence in me inspired me to teach others to find their own confidence. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all the Mrs. Donahues in the world. Change a life this week and change the future.
I am a teacher, which in a single word, sums up my passions and my belief in the future.