My High School Calculus Teacher Deserves The World

My High School Calculus Teacher Deserves The World

Any time we enter the classroom we are greeted by a smiling face belonging to a woman who genuinely cared about her students and the people around her.


As I readied myself for my senior year of high school, I discovered that my greatest anxiety was a glorious subject called Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus. When I first received my schedule, I trembled at the sight of those words, and highly considered switching classes because I definitely did not want to suffer through nine months of intense math. However, after a few weeks, I realized an inspiring reason to stay in the demanding class: my teacher.

To some people, my decision to stay simply because of the teacher may seem ridiculous, but those same people must not know Mrs. Wester. In the first few weeks of the class, we were collectively overwhelmed and frustrated, as one would expect from a challenging math class.

We often complained, and sometimes, even cried. However, despite our pain, our teacher never lost hope. Any time we entered the classroom we were greeted by a smiling face belonging to a woman who genuinely cared about her students and the people around her.

Whenever someone needs help, Mrs. Wester is always willing to offer any act of service. She motivates my class with Jolly Ranchers, soft peppermints, muffins, and sausage balls. She expresses her ceaseless support for her students by writing inspirational quotes, giving pep-talks, reading Bible verses, and telling funny stories.

Her smile is contagious and her laugh floods the room with joy. If you missed class for any reason, the next time she saw you, she would tell you how happy she is to know you're back and that if you needed anything, she was there to provide.

I am more than grateful to know such a compassionate teacher with an amazing love for her job. Without my calculus teacher, I am not sure how I would have survived my senior year up to this point. When I am annoyed or stressed beyond belief, I know I can come into the classroom and she will help me back to a calmer state of mind. I may leave stressed about the curriculum, but because of her kind and loving heart, I won't leave upset about reality.

My calculus teacher taught me that some situations are inevitable, but the future is brighter. In high school, friendships come and go, and sometimes, you may flunk an assignment or a test. She helped me learn that my future is not defined by a broken relationship or a tragic test grade.

My future is built on my work ethic and my attitude. As long as I am diligent in my work and maintain a positive attitude, my future will be successful. She taught me to never settle, and I can always do more than what I have initially done. I can always practice a little more or finish one more question. Ultimately, she taught me that there is never a point in giving up when people believe in you and your future.

She teaches her students valuable life lessons. She warns us to be cautious of any important decisions we may face, so that we may evaluate both sides of the situation and choose the best solution (pun intended). She reminds us to explore the dating world with marriage as the goal, but never forget to have some fun and laugh a little with whoever you are dating. If you are stressed, it is okay to cry, but do not dwell upon your struggles for a new day is dawning.

Mrs. Wester has influenced me to believe in myself, trust in my future, and have stronger faith in God that He will lead me where I am needed. If I don't remember any of my teachers from kindergarten to all of high school, I pray I always remember "that silly and energetic calculus teacher." She has inspired me, motivated me, and helped me become the person I am today. If you're reading this, Mrs. Wester, thank you for all you have done, even if you didn't know what you were doing, which you usually don't, but no one will blame you.

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Why Nursing School Is Different Than Any Other Major

Because most other majors can't kill someone accidentally by adding wrong.

College is hard. Between studying for numerous amounts of tests and balancing eating, working out, maintaining a social life, and somehow not breaking your bank account, it’s no wonder a common conversation among students is “how many mental breakdowns did you have this week?” Every major will pose its own challenges; that’s truth. Nursing school, however, is a special kind of tough that only other nursing majors can understand.

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Nurses are the backbone and unsung hero of healthcare. Their job is to advocate for the patient, collaborate care among all other healthcare team members, carry out physician orders, recognize and report patient progress (or lack thereof), run interference for the patient with any unwanted visitors, research and validate evidence based practice, all while maintaining a certain aurora of confidence for patients and their loved ones that “everything will be okay” and “I’ve got this under control”. If that sounds like a lot; that’s because it is. The majority of skills that we learn that make good nurses cannot actually be taught in theory classes. It’s the hours of actual practice and a certain knack for caring for people- all people- that makes a good nurse great. The countless, unrelenting hours that are spent on the floor in clinical humble us, we know that we’re not great yet, but we’re trying.

Our professors expect us to be humble as well. Nurses do not seek gold stars for their actions, instead the precedence that is set for us to that we “do the right thing because it is the right thing to do”. Most nursing programs grading scales are different. To us, a failing grade isn’t actually getting a 69 or lower, it’s an 80. And that makes sense; no one would want a nurse who only understand 70% of what is happening in the body. We have to understand the normal body response, what happens when things go wrong, why it happens the way it does, and how to properly intervene. We want to learn, it interests us, and we know that the long theory classes and the hard days on the floor are just to make us better. However, any triumph, anytime you do well, whatever small victory that may feel like for you, it just what is supposed to happen- it’s what is expected, and we still have much to learn.

I look back on my decision to take on nursing school, and I often find myself questioning: why? There are so many other majors out there that offer job security, or that help people, or would challenge me just as much. But, when I think of being a nurse- it’s what fulfills me. There’s something that the title holds that makes me feel complete (and that same fact is going to resonate with anyone who wants to love their job). I wouldn’t change the decision I made for anything, I love what I am learning to do and I feel that it’s part of what makes me who I am. The other students who I have met through nursing school are some of the most amazing people I have ever come into contact with, and the professors have helped me understand so much more about myself than I thought possible.

Nursing is treating and understanding the human response. Meaning that it’s not just the disease process, or the action of the medication, or the care that we provide, but that nurses treat the way in which people deal, react, feel, and cope with good news, bad news, terrible procedures, hospital stays and being completely dependent on other people. And the fact of the matter is that all people are different. There is no one magic treatment that will always work for every patient. In addition to course work, the clinical hours, the passion and drive to want to be a nurse, and the difficulty that comes with any medical profession, we have to understand each individual patient, as people and not their illness. And, in order to do that so much self discovery goes on each day to recognize where you are and how you are coping with everything coming your way.

What is taught in nursing school goes far beyond just textbook information or step by step procedures. We have to learn, and quickly, how to help and connect with people on a level which most struggle to accomplish in a lifetime. It's a different kind of instruction, and it either takes place quickly or not at all. The quality of nurse you become depends on it. Nursing school is different, not harder or better than any other school, just different.

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Sociolinguistics Series: Part 49

Language is a powerful tool.


Welcome back! We made our way to a meeting with Dr. Shikaki, a Palestinian demographer--basically, that means he takes polls to see what the population's opinion is. It also means he can see how the opinion changes, as the polls started decades ago.

Again, as I talk about his message, keep in mind that this is his unique narrative, and it is different from other narratives out there--both on the Palestinian and Israeli side. He does give a very factual talk, though, due to the nature of his job. He essentially takes all the narratives of everyone else to craft a blanket-statement narrative; however, we should keep in mind that blanket-statements are almost never 100% accurate.

In addition, because he is able to write the questions being asked in his polls, there could be certain narratives left out. Of course, if you've taken any statistics class, you know about nonresponse bias and other biases that come out of censuses and samples. To my knowledge, Dr. Shikaki's polls are only in the West Bank, so Gazan Palestinians aren't even included here.

The first thing he tells us is that a majority of Palestinians in the West Bank are dissatisfied with their government, the Palestinian Authority. The approval rating for the PA is only about 20-25%, and 80% of Palestinians surveyed said that the government is corrupt in some way. A large group of secular Palestinians said that they support the liberal values that are associated with democracy, such as press freedom, gender equality, minority rights, and most importantly, regularly-held elections.

Over the last 10 years, the percentage of Palestinians who support a democratic political system (because they are dissatisfied with the current corruption, as the current system is not giving them a very high standard of living) rose to over 80%.

Some liberal social values are not as widely accepted because many of these liberal values are a very Westernized way of living, and Arab culture differs from Western culture in many ways; neither is better than the other. However, Palestinians do want the freedom of press and less corruption in political parties. Currently, they do not think they have an independent judiciary.

Dr. Shikaki explained that Palestinians can be split, for the most part, into "nationalists," who are mostly secular, and "Islamists," who are mostly religiously observant and non-secular. Nationalists believe in a separation of the church and state, and they are first and foremost Palestinians (compared to Islamists, who are first and foremost Muslims--and Palestinians second). Fatah is the largest political faction within the nationalists.

Within nationalism, there are mainstream nationalists and leftist nationalists. The overwhelming majority of nationalists are mainstream nationalists. They believe that though there is a separation of church and state, there should be cooperation between the state and religion; both can work together. It is not an antagonistic relationship. 55% of the entire Palestinian public would identify with mainstream nationalism (15% would identify with leftist nationalism, and 30% would identify with Islamism).

The smaller section of nationalism is leftist nationalism. They believe that the state can eradicate the importance placed on religion if need be. On the other end is Islamism, which believes that state and religion cannot be separated. Parliament cannot rule in a way that is opposed to Islamic rule and Muslim values. Again, they are first and foremost Muslims, and after that comes their identity of Palestinians and Arabs.

They show more support for a rule by Hamas in the West Bank because Hamas tends to have similar values as them. In the West Bank, about a third of the population supports Hamas over the PA. In Gaza, there is higher support for Hamas, and Hamas was actually democratically elected after the second intifada.

The public in the West Bank sometimes blames nationalists for corruption, and since nationalists are associated with the current government, Hamas could actually win a popular vote right now--which is why the PA has been holding off elections (which, to Palestinians, is another sign of corruption).

Now that we've seen how Palestinians view themselves, we need to see how Palestinians view their Israeli neighbors--and how they view the possibility of peace. It's a lot to unpack, so this concludes this chapter, and I will be talking about it in the next section!

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