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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.

Kristen's School Story

calculus.pngMy high school calculus teacher nicknamed me “Bonehead”. Consider it a term of endearment. I never liked math, and over the course of my pre-collegiate life it was simply effort, if not dumb luck, that I did my homework and managed to do better than many of my fellow students. But calculus. In calculus I’d met my match. I spent many class periods looking at the tabletop and thinking it would be more productive to bang my head against it.

The day of the AP exam, I was nauseous. Boneheaded me was certain I would fail miserably, but my teacher had great faith. He’d taken me to a math competition at Stanford earlier in the year, he’d organized ‘Calculus Camp’ for those of us taking the exam, and he’d generously spent hours with me after school running through problems again and again. Sometimes until after 8:00pm. No teacher before or since had ever invested so much time into truly helping me learn.

He phoned me on the day my results should have arrived, stayed on the phone as I walked out to the mailbox to discover the results letter waiting, and patiently waited as I opened it and found I’d scored a single point lower than hoped. I have had many great teachers, but the one who sat with me through hours of frustration to guide me and help me understand taught me much more than how to solve an equation. For that I’m grateful to be a Bonehead.


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