Thankful for Financial Aid

Nearing the end of my fourth year teaching full-time, I was recently reminded of how thankful I am for a generous, forgivable loan I received while attending the Stanford Teacher Education Program, also known as STEP.

As most people in the world are aware, Stanford is not a low-cost university.  My one year attending STEP, including all expenses such as tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, and transportation approached $75,000 in cost.

Without financial aid, I could not have considered Stanford.  The centerpiece of my financial aid package was the Dorothy Durfee Avery Loan Forgiveness program.  It offers teacher candidates $20,000 towards their education at Stanford.  I could not have attended STEP without it.  I believe this applies to many of those who attend STEP.

A recent article, Gift to Stanford Teacher Education Program reduces its graduates from debt, mentioned that over 500 STEP graduates benefited from the Avery loan over the past nine years.  I am honored to count myself among those who received the loan.

As someone who transitioned from industry, my financial need was not as great as younger students, yet unlike most of them, I have a spouse and kids, a mortgage, and other expenses.  Hence, my commitment to teaching placed me on a significantly lower income profile than most of my neighbors with a comparable cost profile.  Needless to say, finances became tight very quickly.

Fortunately, with the Avery loan, and other financial aid used to cover the cost of my education, nearly ninety percent of the principle of the loan amounts is forgivable over a five-year period assuming specific conditions are met.  The compounding interest, at 6.9 percent, amounts to my true out of pocket expenses, in addition to the significantly reduced income.  Nonetheless, I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend STEP, and now to teach filled with the principles I learned in the program.

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Happy Birthday, Mr. Math Teacher!

With my birthday approaching, several students wished me happy birthday today.  One brought me a bagel.  Another made me a card decorated with balloons (noting it was the extent of his artistic capability).  The writing in the card made me very happy.

I hope that you are able to have a day full of celebration without nagging parents and the weight of responsibility.

I want to thank you for challenging me as a student and as a person.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning calculus and hanging out with you in class this year.

You are a fantastic teacher and role model and deserve the best day!

Stay Golden Mr. Math Teacher,


These moments help me to remember why I teach.  They are so needed these days!

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Student Success Story

Our monthly professional development session this morning included a panel on student success stories.  Several students recounted how they overcame challenges in their lives ultimately enabling them to succeed in high school. Their stories were inspirational, heartbreaking, and, at times, humorous.  My time was well spent, and my teacher batteries topped off.

Providing the greatest charge, one of the student panelists recounted how one course, and its one teacher, changed her life.  As she described her year in the course, and the extended support provided by the teacher, I choked up slightly as I soon learned she was speaking about me.

It felt great to know a student appreciated my effort to help her and her classmates learn calculus.  She persevered in the course working from a prerequisite deficit, as had many of her classmates.  However, her personal struggles towered over any issue her classmates faced.

She is one impressive young lady destined for greatness.  I am honored I had the opportunity to teach her, and wish her health and wealth as she moves toward graduation this spring and college in the fall.  She starts at an Ivy league school on a full-ride with the world at her doorstep.

God bless America.

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