Dear Students (2016-2017),


It feels like this school year was just suddenly over. I don’t know what happened. You’ve all left the halls and are off on your summer adventures, and I’m reading through my end of year checklist again before I turn in my keys. I miss you all already, even though a lot of you would probably find that hard to believe. This is a message to you as you embark upon your summer.

To the one who barely passed quarters 1-3 of algebra 1 and is earning a B this quarter: look what you had in you all along. Look what you can do. I’m so glad you learned to separate your dislike of math and your ability to do it well. I am so proud of you.

To those who still don’t feel like mathematicians: it’s in you, I promise. You’ve come a long way and you’ll go a long way still. Remember that ‘mathematician’ doesn’t mean ‘I get everything right the very first time I try’, but that it means ‘I keep trying and asking other people for help and starting over and finding my mistakes and learning new tools and strategies and I don’t give up until I figure it out’. You’re still somewhere in the middle of that process, and that’s okay, because the end of that sentence is ‘I figure it out’ and you will get there someday. Just don’t give up.

To those who do feel like mathematicians, now: Keep going. Keep solving problems. Ask ‘what’s next?’ or ‘what else could I find out about this?’ See what else you could know. Don’t set a limit for yourself.

To the class who calls each other sweet dolphins and can get into pedagogy discussions with me after you’ve completed your work: you have been one of my favorite classes of my teaching career so far. I have learned so, so much from you – more than you probably learned from me. Thank you for your perseverance and your jokes and your earnestness. Your attitudes made me confident enough to bring unboiled eggs into the classroom and ask you to break them.

To the ones who have said mine was your favorite class, or that you felt safe in my classroom, or that I was the best math teacher you ever had, or that my class was the reason you came to school: you should know that every time you said that I definitely told one of my friends about it, wrote it down somewhere, and probably cried a little. Those things make me more happy than anything.

To the ones who now automatically correct themselves when they slip up and use the ‘r’ word: I am proud of you for trying to change your habits.

To those who have been brave enough to share with me or the class your truth, your struggles, your selves: You are incredible people. You have taught me so much about what it means to “be yourself”, and about all of the struggles you go through. I am inspired by your fight, by your unwillingness to back down and conform to society’s expectations when they don’t fit you. I am so proud that you continue to be your whole and true selves every day. You know that most adults are too scared to do that, right? You’re incredibly brave and powerful for doing it.

To the ones who always tell me their favorite method of solving quadratics whenever we’re working with them: I don’t even care which one is your favorite, it makes me so happy that you have a favorite. I’m so glad you’ve invested enough of your thought into this to decide which method works best for you. (I’m double glad that some of you have chosen completing the square as a favorite)

To my sports stats students: I hope I’ve gotten you to at least slightly consider the data when you’re arguing with someone about sports. The most fun part has been combining your knowledge of the players and teams in the NBA, and being able to bring you some numbers to help defend the ideas you already have about who’s the best. You should really watch more college basketball, though.

To my graduating seniors: It’s my fourth year teaching, which means that all my tiny freshmen that I had my very first year are graduating. It feels like the last time I will feel quite this way about the graduating class, because all of those students I had my first year teaching hold such a special place in my heart for helping me through all my naivety and blunders and fear. So many congratulations to you, I cannot wait to see what’s next for each of you. I hope you come back to visit.

To the ones who remind me they care: I appreciate you so much. You don’t know how many times that picture of Baymax has been handed to me after a student just yelled at me the last class, or how many times you asked about my trip to visit a friend when I was in a bad mood. The treats from the foods room always make me feel special. Your birthday messages and treats made me happy on a day I couldn’t be with my best friends. Thank you for reminding me how much I matter to you guys. You are the light in my darkest days. Never a day goes by, even the absolute worst ones, where none of you make me laugh. Never a day goes by where none of you make me proud. At least one of you always makes it worth being here. You’re why I teach. You’re why I love my job more than most adults I know.

To all the Mavericks: Wow, this year has been a really tough year for our little school family. Honestly, I’m so proud and impressed of some of you for continuing to show up to school through all of it. It has been so tough at points to keep going. You are all the strongest, bravest, most unstoppable people I know. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t make it. Don’t let anyone stop you from your dreams. The people who try to tell you that you’re no good, that you’re a failure, that you aren’t going anywhere…THEY ARE WRONG. Ignore them. Keep fighting. Keep coming back to school. Keep getting support for your academics and for everything you’re going through outside of school. Stick with your friends and family who are encouraging you to move forward in healthy ways. You know you can always find help, hugs, and a listening ear at Mid City.

Let’s keep the Maverick Movement going – I think it’s catching on 🙂



See you in August!


Miss Mastalio


Author: missmastalio

Math teacher at an alternative high school. Living the best life.

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