Celebration of Teaching: Mrs. Patricia Heim

Author, Sabrina Bong

By Sabrina Bong — When I was in seventh grade, I was certain of two things: that NSync made the best music ever, and that math was the worst subject in the world. My feelings on math only intensified as I began learning algebra.

What kind of person would put letters in a math equation? It seemed like a cruel trick to anyone who disliked the subject. It wasn’t that I was particularly bad at math – I got pretty good grades in it – but since it took longer for me to process and understand, I hated it.

One day, my math teacher asked me to stay a little longer after class to speak with her. I was deathly afraid that she was going to tell me I had just failed a test, or that I clearly wasn’t understanding the concepts. But instead, she asked if I would be willing to tutor a student in math. He was failing the class, and really struggling to understand basic principles.

Mrs. Patricia Heim had been my favorite teacher ever since I started middle school. She was a teacher who truly believed in all of her students, and pushed each of us to achieve our maximum potential. She never just gave us the answers; she made us find the answers. If we went up to her and complained that we didn’t understand a certain math problem, she would walk us through a problem that was very similar and then have us do the original problem on our own. She would spend countless hours after school helping students out. Perhaps I felt the need to say “yes” to helping the student because she had helped me so much.

“I don’t like math though,” I reminded her.

She reminded me that even though I didn’t like math, I still got excellent grades in it. “You may not like it, but you’re good at it,” she said. “And this would really help me out as well.”

I am happy to say that the student I helped passed math that year. But I also learned a valuable lesson. I had started off tutoring the student as a favor for my teacher. What ended up happening was that I realized how much I really love teaching others. It is true what teachers say: there is no greater reward than seeing a student’s face light up when he or she finally understand a concept that they had struggled to understand. Seeing that student’s face when he came in to tell me that he had passed math was incredible.

I am not sure if Mrs. Heim meant to pass on her love of teaching, but she did. She inspired me to continue working with students and help them achieve their best. I hope she would be happy to hear that I continued to tutor in math through high school and college. Now, as a future school counselor, I still work a lot with students and push them to succeed.

Thank you, Mrs. Heim, for showing me how wonderful teaching can be!

___________________________________

Sabrina Bong recently finished her first year of graduate school at Marquette. She is working towards a Master’s in School Counseling. Sabrina also graduated from Marquette in 2011 with degrees in Psychology and Broadcast and Electronic Communication.

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