I've been thinking a lot about school lately, particularly math. I'm sure a big part of that is that I work at Staples, an office supply store, where the back to school season is almost like Black (Green) Friday (the day after Thanksgiving, when the holiday shopping season officially begins), except that it is nearly that busy spread out over weeks. I do not remember school supply buying being such a big deal when I was in school. I mean I always loved getting new pens and pencils and especially fresh notebooks with all those empty pages. We never spent that much on stuff, and reused what we could from year to year (or even from generation to generation -- I used some of my mom's old binders). Molly (who is working at least temporarily at Staples, too) and I have seen so many kids (well, okay, mostly their parents) shelling out the bucks for graphing calculators, the TI-84s. When I was in school (I'm already starting to feel old when I say that phrase -- I graduated high school in 1993, only 16 years ago!), we didn't need or use graphing calculators until Calculus. Back then, it was the TI-81, and the school actually provided the calculators for the students in that class. Most of us (our parents) wouldn't have had the $80-$100+ plus that the TI-81s cost back in 1992-1993, nor enjoyed having to drive at least an hour to find a place that sold them. (My family especially, since we were getting by with free school lunches and forever hand-me-downs!) I remember the 6-8 of us who braved calculus my senior year, sitting in Mrs. Scott's classroom or working out problems together on the the board. I'm not sure I could remember the calculus we learned then, but I remember studying it.

This memory brings me to the other main reason I've been thinking about school and math. I found out this week that my high school math teacher, Mrs. Rochelle Scott, died on August 24th. I've been reading over her obituary and the memories others have shared on her tribute page. It has brought back many memories of Mrs. Scott.

-- I took a lot classes from Mrs. Scott, including algebra II, pre-calculus, and calculus, basic and advanced computer programing (We only used BASIC on Apple IIes. The school got its first Macs at the end of the year I graduated. Mrs. Scott used to tell us about the first computer classes she taught with the big boxes. The students would make their punch cards and once a week drive to to a school about an hour away to run their punch cards through a computer. If there were any mistakes, it was another week before they could try again.)

-- Mrs. Scott was also the newspaper adviser. I was the editor or co-editor of the school newspaper for 3-4 years. We spent lots of time before and after school typing, cutting and pasting (literally) the newspaper together. She would even drive me to school or home later, if we needed to work on the paper. I remember riding along in her zippy, sporty red car (weren't there a few tickets for speeding/not wearing a seat belt in her history :) ?) along those 11 miles from Burt to Sentral School, a school out in the middle of a cornfield (except for the years it was in the middle of a bean field). I was incredible naive, and her careful eye kept me from printing coded innuendos the columnists tried to sneak into their articles.

-- Mrs. Scott made math class so much fun, but we learned so much. She stuck with us and helped us all get the concepts, spending so many extra hours with students. She was always lively and energetic, with a spark in her eyes. Her enthusiasm was contagious! She was also a live wire, a fire brand -- I learned a lot of colorful expressions from her. After tests, we would work on puzzles from Puzzle magazine.

-- Many people have talked about how Mrs. Scott would work with students got the concepts, spending countless hours with us. I think this is fantastic of her. We went to a school where the teachers really strove to leave no student behind. Memorably I remember spending two months studying adverbs in English class, as Mr. Hansen tried to help everyone grasp the usage of adverbs. Our small school had the opportunity to help each student learn the things they needed.

-- Mrs. Scott and her family were also members of the same church we were members of. She sang alto in the church choir.

Wow, so many memories! I'm sure so many more will continue to come to me, but I just wanted to share a bit about Rochelle Scott, who touched my life and lives of so many students over the years. I can't believe she's gone already, but she lived a full life.

(This entry was largely written in my head at work as I sat for hours removing the staples from packets, adding a page, and re-stapling the packets -- over 700 times. Don't ask!)

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