It has been years ago, but I will never forget my eighth grade math teacher. In addition to being my math teacher, she was also my homeroom teacher, so I had a double dose of her everyday. In retrospect, I can recall nothing from her class about multiplication concepts, prime number rules, negative and positives and have no memory of any rules on factoring. My recollection of eighth grade math is “zero,” because that year I was scared to death of the teacher!
On the first day of class, she presented the rules for the classroom. Talking in her deep and serious voice, she delineated the classroom rules one by one. She prefaced the first rule by telling us that no one could get up to sharpen pencils unless they raised their hand first and asked permission. Then her second rule followed: no two people could be at the pencil sharpener at the same time. That was imperative, she said, because in math, pencils always need sharpening and an accumulation of students at the pencil sharpener would hinder the educational process.
Rule number three was that no one could talk to his or her neighbor. Rule number four involved homework — no writing on the backs of homework papers. Rule number five was no doodling in class. Rule number six was no bathroom breaks while in her math class. Rule number seven involved her periodically checking books for pencil marks. If a mark was found, she would lower our homework on that day by one letter grade. Then rule number eight was no looking out the window. That one was difficult for me. It seemed that a look out the window, even a quick glance assured me that life went on even aside from math class.
One day in October, I was still struggling in math. I had talked to my parents the night before about math class. I told them I was frustrated and uncomfortable. This day was the same as others; again I was afraid to make a move for fear that I would provoke my teacher.
My heart was heavy that day in class as I pondered my fate in the back of the room, where I was number seven in the last row nearest to the door. Then suddenly and unexpectedly I felt that I was not alone. I sensed someone was watching me but it was not my teacher. I looked toward the door and there looking through the glass panel in the door was my daddy! He had been watching me through the window and he had come up to the school to talk to my math teacher. He knew how hard I was struggling and how intimidated I was of her. I knew that everything would be all right … my daddy was there.
I knew that my daddy was watching me and he knew my ways. Our heavenly father, who knows us all so well, is always watching us and that brings a sense of peace in times of trouble. Just my daddy’s presence gave me a source of confidence. Our Heavenly Father’s presence in our lives brings us assurance that we are never alone. On that day, I knew that daddy would help to get me through this situation. Our Heavenly Father’s love and mercy gives us hope in all situations of our lives.
Years have passed and I have encountered various difficult and fearful situations since math and junior high. Daddy died over thirty years ago but still I am thankful for my daddy who showed me by example how the Heavenly Father brings confidence, security and peace to our lives.
That is the lesson of my eighth-grade year in math.
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: