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Thanking teachers.

Susan Notes:

The Saratogian, Dec. 31, 2012, provides an account of the remarkable effect teachers have on a student. The article isn't available online without payment, but I'll provde a few bits from the real thing.

by Susan Ohanian

Jonesville resident and former Shaker High School math teacher Frank Berlin remembers fondly the days "when students weren't viewed as test soldiers."

Berlin taught math in the school system for more than 30 years.

Frank Wang was a sophomore in one of Berlin's classes for one year. Then his family moved away.

In November 2012, Wang, holding a Ph.D. from MIT,was named president of Oklahoma School of Science and Math, which is a two-year public residential high school created and funded by the Oklahoma legislature. The school is small--144 juniors and seniors.

For the investiture ceremony, Wang invited a group of revered notables that included Mary Ann Bauman, the American Heart Association Physician of the Year, and Joseph H. Taylor, Princeton professor emeritus of physics and winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in physics.

He also invited his math teacher from Shaker High School, Frank Berlin.

And sent him a plane ticket. The school called asking Berlin if he has his own cap and gown for the ceremony, and he said, "Are you kidding?" They took his measurements and got him one.

Frank Berlin wasn't the only teacher who helped shape Frank Wang's life.

He was originally diagnosed with a neurological disorder and labeled a special needs students. Elementary school teacher Isabel Robinson determined the label was incorrect and helped get him into regular classes, where he flourished. You can see the letter the school wrote Wang's parents before Isabel Robinson intervened.

Wang donated $30,000 to the school district in Isabel Robinson's memory.

Wang's generosity toward former teachers makes me avoid comment on the fact that he worked with John Saxon on those execrable math texts and was president of the Saxon math company. He remains a fervent advocate for the Saxon pedagogy and highly recommend its mathematics textbooks as the best textbooks for providing students with a solid and firm foundation for further study in mathematics.

My fervent disagreement in pedagogy doesn't belie my appreciation for Frank Wang's honoring teachers.

— Susan Ohanian


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