Finishing my 18th year at WRA, I stop to reflect on what it is that draws me back here year after year. Is it the beautiful campus? The longer spring break? My talented colleagues? The motivated students? I decide it’s more than this; it is the total package, but particularly the relationships we have with our students. I don’t see a single student on campus without thinking of him or her in several different situations: on the baseball field, gracing the stage, in the classroom, leading activities, and as friend to so many other students. We have students who recognize the importance of school and who strive to do their best in many areas. They are a pleasure to know and to teach. They are stretched, pulled, challenged, and yet they smile, something my students and I have in common!
|Mrs. Chlysta offers extra help to Jill '13.
I sit in the dorm with a student from one of my math classes. She comes just to chat, not for math help. We talk about her enthusiasm for the new Saturday Academy. She says she plans to take my ECHO model and happily shares her thoughts. Imagine having plenty of time for the activities that we start in class, plenty of time for a full discussion. Imagine what it will be like when there is no need to prepare for the next course in a sequence, so we focus on areas of greatest interest to everyone present. I hope I can meet her expectations as I envision how we might seek horizontal enrichment and delve deeply into each new topic, unencumbered by 50 minute time limits and a list of topics which must be tackled by year’s end. She is anxious to explore math in a different way, and I am excited to teach her again.
Another student comes into the common room to say that she does not understand her math homework. We solve some problems, and I teach her; math is just a tool for me to get to know her better. We talk about her sports—she is playing lacrosse for the first time—and she tries a few more problems on her own. I write the word “WIN!” next to a problem she has solved correctly and she is ready to smile about math. I tell her I will be at her next lacrosse game, and she leaves to tackle the next subject and get ready for room checks.
More girls stream into the common room. The library has just closed and help sessions are ending. Varsity lacrosse players return with leftovers from their boxed dinners, and girls gather to enjoy a late night snack. The buzz in the room floats from sports to mixers to dating to the upcoming play. I watch the girls supporting each other, listening to each other and generally enjoying one another’s company. Where else can I see my students NOT for what they can do in math class, but for the great people they truly are. I am in the company of artists, dancers, musicians, academics, and athletes. I am meeting the leaders of tomorrow, and I know that they will be successful in whatever they choose to pursue. I have seen evidence of this in Reunion weekends and Women-to-Women forums. I consider it a privilege to know our students and to enjoy their company during any part of the day they choose to share with me. It’s no wonder I look forward to being here for many years to come. How could I not?
By: Sherry Chlysta
Mrs. Chlysta is currently teaching Precalculus and AP Calculus AB. She serves as the coordinator for mathematics competitions and sponsors the Mathematics Club. In addition, she coaches varsity volleyball and is Freshman Class Dean.
Tuesday April, 17, 2012 at 03:24PM