Julie DeZell, Hometown Life
As our nation marks National Teacher Appreciation Week, I want to recognize my algebra teacher, Pamela Carpenter, for inspiring me to do my best in all of my classes at Michigan Virtual Charter Academy.
My academic journey has not been easy. I’m in ninth grade, but have attended many different schools. Due to medical issues, I’ve had a hard time in my classes, especially in traditional, brick-and-mortar settings. I have done poorly in school and even flunked classes and repeated a grade – mostly due to the number of classes I missed because of my health problems.
In the past, I’ve failed math. I believe it’s because I never fully grasped the initial concepts that were built upon all year. This left me behind and confused. When I asked for help, instead of staying after class, my teachers would tell me go to the library for free tutoring (even if I didn’t have transportation) or to look up the lessons online (even if I didn’t have a computer). I felt like they didn’t want to help me or even care if I succeeded.
This year, Ms. Carpenter didn’t let that happen. She went back and made sure that the whole class, not just me, understood each concept before moving on to the next. One time, I didn’t understand the lesson for that day. Ms. Carpenter stayed and helped me during lunch. She worked with me until she was sure I fully understood the concept. It’s amazing, but she always seems happy to help everyone. I can’t imagine her telling us to go somewhere else to find help.
Ms. Carpenter also uses student moderators who are able to assist those who may be confused or stuck on a topic. Now that my grades are up, I myself have become a student moderator! I love the feeling I get from helping my classmates finally understand. Being a moderator also introduced me to new people. I went from having no friends to being friends with the other moderators and a bunch of other people in the class.
Being in a virtual school, people tend to think that students can’t form connections with their teachers since they don’t meet in-person every day. But I know I have better communication with my teachers, especially Ms. Carpenter, than I did when I interacted in a physical classroom.
Ms. Carpenter uses class connect sessions to show problems step-by-step on the screen, making tough concepts totally understandable. She talks with me and my family over the phone and on email and is always on standby if I need help. She even attends school functions, such as trips and dances, to meet her students face-to-face.
Ms. Carpenter made algebra easy to understand and has encouraged me to put in more effort in my other classes. Now I’m an honor student – with math being my highest grade! She also helped me to come out of my shell and make friends, has increased my chances of attending a good college after graduation and has encouraged me to fulfill my dream of owning my own business one day. I am so thankful for all that she has done for me, just by being my teacher.
I encourage everyone reading to think back to a teacher that made an impact in your life or someone teaching your kids right now. Try to find a way to thank them for the way they’re changing lives for the better.