Before I attended Kingsway, I hated the idea of being a teacher. I saw my mom working all the time and it seemed like the worst possible job. Who wants to look at math quizzes after dinner while eating their dessert? She was always thinking about her “other kids” and what they were doing the next day. We also could never take a family trip anywhere–grocery store, the mall, even Disney–without running into a student or parent that my mother just had to catch up with. It became a chore for my family to have to stand and wait patiently until she had chatted with that family enough to feel satisfied and continue our day. I couldn’t imagine how anyone would want a job that involved so much responsibility both in and out of the school building.
Then, I had her as a teacher my sophomore year. While school was always something I enjoyed, there was a level of comfort in her room. I still hear from my friends how much they loved her class or how her class was the first time they “got” math. Consistently, my classmates and other students would be in her room seeking help even after they had moved on to higher levels of math because Mrs. Reynolds was the one who really knew how to explain the problems well. I watched her complete countless letters of recommendation for my peers (including some very intense academy recommendations for both West Point and Annapolis). And that was when I started to get it: she cared for each of those students just as much as she cared for me and my brothers–they even called her mom at times. To this day, she can tell me what schools former students went to and what they wanted to do with their lives as well as recall fun anecdotes about their classes all the way from her first years teaching.
Then, I became a teacher. My journey to the profession is irrelevant, but the passion and drive that I bring to the work are all due to my mother. I finally started to see why all of that responsibility was worth it. I started to feel the joy of working with students and the content that inspires them. I, unfortunately, entered the profession the same year everything drastically changed. However, this gave me a chance to see what my mother did up close. Above all else, she never stopped caring. I watched as her favorite thing to do became so much harder. Teaching math does not translate easily online. She made a home classroom and tried at least 5 different set-ups to be sure that her students could see her face and the worksheet and the slides and the example problems all at the same time. Even though technology wasn’t her strong suit, she never stopped trying new things.
She dedicated her time to doing everything possible to help students through the past 2 years, and she still does. She has gone to at least one game for each sports team this past season to cheer and support them, and has also taken on mentoring a new teacher all while still holding the position of department chair.
I know how she makes me feel as a student, colleague, and a daughter, and I know how she has helped my peers to become not just great mathematicians but also great people. While I am only starting on my journey of being a teacher, she is approaching the end, so I would be remiss if I did not do all I could to fight for one of the most upstanding teachers I have the joy of knowing to be honored as educator of the year.