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I live in Rancho Palos Verdes. After retiring in 2005, I continued my love of teaching math by tutoring. Shortly after the pandemic hit, my husband of 62 years was diagnosed with coronavirus and died. I was heartbroken, but when I got a call in August 2020 to tutor an honors geometry student, I bought a document camera and jumped on Zoom. Those tutoring sessions, engrossed in helping that boy, were about my happiest times amid sadness.

Pat Brewer

Pat Brewster

The student I was tutoring later revealed that his honors geometry teacher had left and the class was struggling with substitutes. I decided to help and applied to be an occasional substitute in the district, knowing classes would be online and safe.

During the last three months of school, when partial in-person classes were starting, the district again needed a long-term substitute (the fifth) for the math teacher who had left early. Administrators found a creative solution by hiring JoAnne Myers, a math teacher who had recently moved to the area, to teach online, and hiring me to be the in-class teacher. JoAnne had nine years’ experience teaching online, but for health reasons could not come into the classroom.

JoAnne Myers

JoAnne Myers

Together, JoAnne and I went on a crusade to motivate those students. Some had given up. Many were failing. JoAnne met privately with students, enlisted parents, and posted extra videos of math problems and solutions. I supported her in the classroom and provided homework and test solutions for her to post online; students were required to complete missed homework and tests.

At semester’s end, almost all the students passed. JoAnne said, “I couldn’t have done it without Pat’s help.” For me, it was a thrill to work with a most excellent and truly caring math teacher. I learned some amazing tech skills from JoAnne. We were a great combination.


Featured image: Aakanksha Panwar/Unsplash

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