The moment I entered Mr. Nealis' Algebra 1 class this morning, I was instantly taken back to my own experience with the craft at my alma mater in Douglasville. Algebra was the only math class that I really enjoyed, because I considered it to be akin to a treasure hunt. We were always looking for something that was unsolved, hidden and not so obviously apparent.
The answers to all of the questions and strategies for solving these math problems did not come rushing back like I hoped they would. Thankfully Mr. Nealis did not call me up to the board. As I began to think about what I still remembered from Algebra, I felt bad—maybe even a little guilty—because truthfully, I couldn't remember much of anything at all. I did remember having classroom discussions some 13 years or so ago about the reasoning behind having to take this kind of math in the first place. It was at that moment that I remembered why it's so important: because problem-solving of any kind is an integral part of being a successful human being!
In other words, it may not always be mathematics, but in some way or another we are always looking for x. This stand-in letter can represent just about anything, but as 7th-grader Grace Watters successfully solved an equation on the dry-erase board, it just so happened that her x was a number.
Following my Algebra adventure, I headed down a flight of stairs to meet with my amigos and amigas in Señora Evans' 4th grade Spanish class. I was excited because Spanish is more my speed. I felt like if nothing else, I could keep up and understand the questions that were being written on the board and/or spoken for all of the pupils to hear. The classroom assignment at hand involved "shopping" for items on their iPads on a Spanish language, European-based retail website. For these students, finding their x meant using the right combination of Spanish vocabulary words so they could find and "purchase" gifts for Mamá and Papá.
Following a tasty taco lunch and conversation with Lower School faculty, I visited Ms. Bradshaw's science class, where the students were very open-minded towards opening the bodies of fetal pigs. Comparisons were drawn to the human body, as organs were shuffled and students made polite jokes and faces of mild disgust. For the budding young scientists, finding x was all about identifying parts of the body when Ms. Bradshaw would call on them to point with scalpels and teasing needles.
After coming down from my own anxiety around the smell of formaldehyde, a visit to Mrs. Moore's 7th grade art class presented a therapeutic end to my day on the other side of the Darlington campus. The class was starting to finish up Wayne Thiebaud-inspired paintings of everything from colorful cupcakes (my personal favorite) to bold bow ties. The students loved the painter's focus on everyday objects, and were impressed with their realism. After asking around, I found that for these artists, finding x involved creating the right balance between shading and mixing colors.
I see x as a metaphor for answers to questions, for choices, for new beginnings and fond returns. We are always on the hunt for something in life, and as lifelong learners, x shouldn't be something we are scared of, but something we look forward to with excitement.
Today, finding my own x involved looking for activity, excitement and more stories on this particular Thursday at Thatcher. I didn't have to look far beyond the faces of Tigers who were excited to learn, and teachers who were just as excited to share their expertise.
Stay tuned as the communication office staff continues to revisit Thatcher Hall, excited to meet the personalities, hear the stories, and experience the culture that makes this place so unique.
May you always find your x!