Paperclippings Blog: The teacher I remember best

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I pray because I believe, and I believe because I pray.

Joseph Walker--Deseret Morning News

Utah, United States

Kelly is the mother of 5 adorable kids--4 boys and a girl. The girl came in a package with a boy (twins). Kelly is married to a charming young man who lives and breathes computers. They are also guardians for three nieces and a nephew.

She is active in the community having served as PTA President of a local elementary school, on the board of the Salt Lake Mothers of Twins, as a district round-table trainer with the Cub Scouts, as a volunteer for Sidelines (a support network for Women on bed rest during pregnancy) and she and her husband are active in the LDS Church.

Read more about me...

My City of Heroes level 50 hero

Salt Lake LDS Temple Centennial with a full 3D model of the building in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. This Single Image Stereogram was done at the 100 year anniversary of the building's completion.

Printed at 18x24 inches.

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"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."

Helaman 5:12

Courtesy of Scott Kurtz


Thursday, February 28, 2008

The teacher I remember best

On the first day of the 10th grade I sat in Mr. Walker's College Algebra class for the first time. As the year went on I learned that this teacher was no ordinary math teacher.

Jim Walker was a tall gray-haired man who walked with a slight limp. He almost always wore a white lab coat while teaching. He said he was a full time sheep farmer and a part time teacher--though he taught full time. He hailed from a fairly unknown small town in the southwest corner of the Salt Lake Valley. But this is not what made this teacher stand out among the others.

He stood out among other teachers due to his enthusiasm for teaching math.

That first year I got a taste of this enthusiasm as we solved polynomials and memorized digits of pi (at least the first 5 or 6 digits) and learned the quadradic equation. Interwoven into our lessons on the Pythagorean theorem we learned more about who Pythagoras was. We learned about how Pi (3.14159265...) came to be defined. As his students we made it a goal to calculate the digits of pi out 100 digits.

In 11th grade my schedule would not accomodate the regular trig/analytic Geometry class so I found myself (along with 2 others students) in an independent study math class held in Mr. Walker's class room during his off hour. I barely passed math that year. But, oh, we still had fun with Mr. Walker.

On occasion he would ask us to run down the hall to the vending machine to get him a Coke or some other soft drink. The first time he asked us to go we gladly took the opportunity to escape the classroom for a few minutes. On the way back that Coke was tossed and rolled and otherwise well-shaken.

On this particular occasion he was onto us. He deduced what we had done and tapped the top of his soda to lessen the severity of any explosion that might occur due to our little "shake-up."

A few weeks later the same request was made. Again, we all jumped at the chance to get out of class for a few. And again, that Coke was tossed and rolled. But this time, due to being obsorbed by correcting Calculus examination papers, he paid little attention to the abuse to which we had subjected that aluminum can.

Needless to say, the Calculus students found a sugary substance on their corrected math tests the next day.

But all this was still only a taste of what this teacher was about. My senior year found me in Mr. Walker's Calculus class. There were 16 of us in his class that year-- 8 boys and 8 girls. This was a class we could get college credit for if we took a test at the end of the year and passed it.

Though I struggled to wrap my brain around that daunting subject, I thorougly enjoyed the class. Though there were days when I really didn't like doing calculus, I always loved going to Mr. Walker's class. I probably paid more attention to his lessons because I enjoyed the class than I would have if I had dreaded going to that class.

As the final advanced placement examination loomed, Mr. Walker gave up a Saturday or two so that we could have a couple study sessions. These were times where we could cram our hearts out with the benefit of having the teacher there to answer questions or review a difficult problem. Perhaps it was the pizza he provided or the real need to study for the exam, but nearly every student was there for those study sessions.

In late summer 2001 Jim Walker succomed to cancer. I attended his funeral. In 2004, just before Christmas, I moved to that small town in the southwest corner of the Salt Lake Valley that was home to the teacher I remember best.

Mr. Walker's home town is not so small any more and his legacy lives in his son who sits on the city council in this once small town.

NOTE: Jim Walker's son is no longer on the city council, but his daughter in law now teaches math at Herriman High School.  Right here in our not so small town.


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On Thursday, February 28, 2008 8:10:00 AM, Blogger nanc wrote...

you are an excellent writer, kelly - oh the pranks we pulled as children...

today, the kidz are setting their teacher's hair on fire and any other number of violent things.

oh, if we could only go back.

On Thursday, February 28, 2008 10:23:00 AM, Blogger Kelly wrote...

Why, Nanc...thank you for the compliment!

and yes....if we could only go back to that time...though I would not choose to be a teenager ever again.

On Thursday, February 28, 2008 12:53:00 PM, Blogger nanc wrote...

no, i'd be happy just being a little old lady at that time!

On Thursday, February 28, 2008 11:03:00 PM, Blogger cube wrote...

I'm going to have my high school aged daughter read this...maybe it will affect her semi-errant ways...

On Saturday, March 01, 2008 1:11:00 AM, Blogger Kelly wrote...

Cube, let me know if it affects her or not...I have my own teenagers.

On Tuesday, March 04, 2008 6:59:00 PM, Blogger Phelonius wrote...

There are several teachers that I remember from the different stages of my education. I suppose the the one that will always be the closest in my heart to the ideal of the teacher that cares is Coach Thetford. While he was not teaching track, Coach Thetford was the guy teaching the handful of students at old Keller High School that could actually understand Calculus. If I remember right, our senior year there were all of seven or so students in his class. He would prop his feet up on his desk, talk to us about math and chew tobacco. He was a good and thorough teacher, though, and he loved what he taught.

From time to time, he would get all three or four of us ready that wanted to compete in the UIL academic competitions in math, get a school bus, and we would drive miles to get to the competitions.

I still love that man.

On Tuesday, March 04, 2008 11:25:00 PM, Blogger Kelly wrote...

There are other teachers that stand out, as well...though not as much.

There was my 5th grade teacher who wore a green suit to school every day. He is the reason I learned to play chess. I would come home from school and talk about Mr. Hill until dark. I had him for Math in 6th grade.

When I got to 7th grade and went to another school I went through withdrawal, in a sense. I sure missed him for a long time.

On Thursday, March 13, 2008 9:41:00 PM, Blogger IOpian wrote...

My one of my favorites would have to be Mr. Gibbs in the 7th grade. In those days we had one teacher that taught multiple subjects. He was equally good at all. He was a rancher as well. Ate peanuts during class.

My other was Mrs DuBois in the 6th grade. It was first experience of having an African American teacher. This was in the mid sixties. She was a lovely large grandmotherly women that called us her babies. "OK my babies, have a good weekend and be sure to bring your essays Monday". If we acted up all she had to do was glare over her glasses.

She was a hugger and we loved her. Great teacher and knew her subjects and mixed in humor and life experience to make things interesting. In geography we were discussing that sugar cane was grown in South Texas. She had gone out and bought a bunch of cane stalks and we broke them and ate on it while she explained how it was processed.

To this day, some 40 years later, my brain still conjures up the smell of her perfume when I think of her ( happened when I typed her name ) and hear her voice in my mind.

On Friday, March 14, 2008 1:33:00 AM, Blogger Kelly wrote...

IOpian, Hi there!

You know, I love hearing about favorite teachers. It wasn't really what they taught us but HOW!


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