As the school year comes to a close, students look back on teachers who have had an impact. A subject that’s usually not the most popular, math challenges students to think deeply; but high school math teacher, Ms. Sandra Davis, has given her students a different perspective on the subject. Teaching both Integrated Math III Honors and AP Calculus at Coronado High School, she encourages students to learn and struggle independently to have a better grasp.
Along with being known as one of the best and hardest math teachers at Coronado High, Ms. Davis stands out for some of her “nerdy” interests. All of her students have seen the lifesize cutout of Aragorn, the character from the Lord of the Rings series, that resides in her classroom. As a fanatic of all things “nerdy,” Ms. Davis finds it special teaching honors and AP classes to share these interests with her students as well. She says, “Smart students typically like nerdy things, so that is why it’s always awesome to teach a class full of nerdy people. I like having it in the front of the classroom because it lets students know a little bit more about me.”
When Ms. Davis began teaching at Coronado High School in January of 1990, she was not immediately put into what we would later find out to be her specialty. She had earlier studied Applied Math and Scientific Programming at the University of California, San Diego and later received her Master’s Degree at National University in San Diego. With this background in computer sciences, she began by teaching an Introduction to Programming class at Coronado High. In addition to computer classes, Ms. Davis taught consumer math classes, but with some shifting of curriculum and courses, she became a full-time math teacher.
Now teaching one class of AP Calculus AB, another of AP Calculus BC, and three classes of Integrated Math III Honors, Ms. Davis teaches each grade from freshmen all the way to our graduating seniors. Many students find these courses challenging with her being the tough, but bright, teacher that she is.
Integrated Math III Honors
This year, Coronado Unified School District introduced a new math curriculum with the transition to Common Core. This new curriculum is intended to integrate standards from certain strands of math throughout the year. A unique aspect of this change is the absence of teacher instruction. Instead of the classic lecture from a teacher and example problems in class, students must now work through a lesson within student groups, answering questions in the textbook. This applies to all Integrated Math classes at CHS, including Precalculus Honors.
Since the group learning is a rather new concept, many have found it hard to adapt to this drastic change. Being the first year, teachers are still adapting as well. Ms. Davis has found that it is helpful to have a closure discussion for each lesson to review the concepts covered. This allows students to receive some instruction, while still having to work through the questions in the lesson themselves.
Ms. Davis: A Life Mentor
What makes Ms. Davis stand out from the rest of the faculty at Coronado High School?
The answer has been revealed around the time right before a school break. As one of her students, I have been lucky enough to experience the impact she has on her students. Right before Thanksgiving, Ms. Davis saved some minutes at the end of class to share with us a lesson about life. She read aloud from a book about tips on finding happiness, and although she was not able to finish, the effect very inspiring. Walking out of that room, students were impacted by the subtle but powerful words she shared. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, this could not have been more appropriate. She took time to do similar things before winter break and finals week.
When Valentine’s Day comes around, students are busy making Valentines for their friends and their significant other. To Ms. Davis, Valentine’s Day is a day of appreciation of others and their talents. Not everyone at Coronado High may receive a Valentine, but any student who has Ms. Davis receives a personal letter from her and a cupcake that she baked. There are about thirty-five students per class, and every year Ms. Davis spends her free time writing heartfelt letters and baking cupcakes to make sure all of her students receive a Valentine.
After asking Ms. Davis what it was she was trying to convey, she gave the following response: “I’m interested in who they are as people and what kind of people they are becoming. This probably has more importance to me than what kind of mathematician they will be.” On the surface, we see a strict math teacher who brings out excellence in her students. But if we really listen to her message and let ourselves forget about the sometimes unfavorable subject of math for a few moments, we can benefit from these life lessons that she imparts.
In these ways, Ms. Sandra Davis is considered one of the most impactful teachers at Coronado High. She looks forward to teaching new students and hopes to continue to make a positive impact.