Thanks, Mr. Finch
The high school I attended was a large (Texas 5A) school with a graduating class of 300+. We had several science teachers, math teachers, English teachers, etc. Typically, students would never have the same teacher twice in our school (save for the foreign languages).
I had the rare experience of having the same teacher not twice but three times. I certainly could have avoided having this teacher for so many years, but I sought out his classes. His name is Bill Finch. He was my Algebra, Statistics, and Calculus teacher. In addition, he served as a sponsor for the UIL Mathematics team with which I competed.
Though my mind is more math-leaning than language arts, Mr. Finch cultivated a curiosity of math for which I haven’t ceased being thankful. He was the type of teacher who prioritized the achievement of his students; he cared for our, for my learning. Although I was a typical late 90’s, punk-music-loving teenager, I could appreciate the time he took to prepare lessons, seemingly perfectly balancing his lectures with the students’ demonstration of learning.
Even now, over twenty years later, his lessons still resonate and rappel into my brain as I conjure impromptu math lessons with my children. I distinctly recall a lesson on quadratic functions. Soon after entering the class and turning on his overhead projector he stood back up and walked to the door. He simultaneously turned off the lights in the classroom while switching on a large Maglite flashlight. He shined the light onto his chalkboard (yes, he often taught math on a chalkboard with chalk) and asked the students to name the shape. “Circle.” As he tilted the flashlight up, he asked for the name of the newly formed shape. “Oval.” Then, he tipped the flashlight a bit more and asked for the new shape. “U?” He responded, “This is a parabola.”
He then flipped on the lights, sat at his overhead projector, took out his Vis-a-Vis pen, and began teaching us the quadratic equation and how its formula and graphing are rooted in a circle. And it made sense. His teaching often just made sense which gave me confidence in my learning.
His approach to quadratic equations in Algebra II class motivated me to seek out other classes of his, as I knew I would learn and be successful in math.
Mr. Finch is just one of the many great teachers I had the privilege to learn from. From Ms. Stubblefield in 2nd grade to Ms. Ruge in my senior year, I cannot overstate the importance of teachers, and I am extremely thankful for the ones I had in my life and the ones now teaching my kids.
To all the exceptional teachers I have had who spurred my learning, who believed in me, and who cared: THANK YOU!
Teachers are tasked to make students learn every day. And that is a hard job. We should make time today and every other day to notice the hard work of teachers and to take a few moments to appreciate them and say thank you!
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