When I was in middle school, I was inspired by my math teacher, Mrs. Heinz. She noticed a special talent in me that she wanted to cultivate. I was good at calculations, so Mrs. Heinz scheduled time during the school day for me and a few others to work on advanced math. I loved it. Looking back, the thing that I loved even more was how an adult noticed something about me and took the time to invest in me. It makes me tear up just writing this because just a year prior, in 5th grade, I felt like I wasn’t worth the investment after my parents got divorced and my dad moved away.
In high school, I was inspired again by my math teacher, Mr. Southworth in Precalculus. He picked up where Mrs. Heinz left off and filled in where my dad couldn’t. He challenged me, encouraged me, and set high expectations that he helped me meet. Mr. Southworth always kept his promises, so I knew I could depend on him. Both he and Mrs. Heinz made the biggest impact on me.
My teachers helped me realize my calling to be an educator. I wanted to give back to students what I had received at a very important time in my life. Answering the call was not easy though. I was the first in my family to go to college. During my senior year, I was convinced to explore other fields first for the money. After college, I went into IT, selling and configuring computer servers. Finally, in 2012, despite many barriers, I obtained my teaching certificate in the state of Illinois. I got a job right away teaching Calculus, Precalculus and Geometry. Three years later, I moved to Austin, Texas where I accepted a Calculus teaching job at a local ISD. Things seemed great, but I as I entered my fourth year of teaching, I nearly quit. I was overloaded with prep and had over 160 students, 100 of those in Calculus alone. The workload was intense and I barely made it to Thanksgiving break.
Things were gloomy until I met a parent whose children attended a new classical charter school operated by Responsived Ed. This parent listened to my story and later shared a job posting for a math teacher. Given I was discouraged in my current role, I applied. I got the job, kept teaching, and I haven’t looked back. Over the past three years, I have been able to answer my calling as an educator more than ever before. Now that I am at a public charter school I am able to manage my workload, support all of my students and be present with my family.
Now I get to live out my lifelong dream of teaching. Like Mrs. Heinz, I get to identify various talents in students and cultivate them. Like Mr. Southworth, I have the opportunity to challenge and encourage students. Like many of my teachers in the past, I get to show up each day and inspire students to learn new things, to nerd out in math, and to become outstanding citizens.
By Cameron Starc, High School Math Teacher, Responsive Ed