32850 US-43 STE. B, THOMASVILLE, AL 36784 844-229-8936 GOLDENTAXRELIEF.COM G o l d e n G a z e t t e SEPTEMBER 2018
M ore T han the S um THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON FROM MATH CLASS
Well, September is here, and the school buses are back on the road. My own kids will be going into 8th and 10th grades this year. It’s amazing how time flies. I won’t say that I remember my own high school years like they were yesterday, but the back-to-school spirit certainly has me reflecting on my formative years, especially the days I spent in Ms. Kirkham’s math class.
was essential that every last one of us left her class with a solid grasp of these foundational concepts so we could build on them for the rest of our lives. Looking back, I’ve come to realize Ms. Kirkhammust have felt incredible pressure to do her job well. Math builds upon itself; you can’t understand division without multiplication, you can’t understand fractions without understanding division, and you can’t solve an algebra problem without knowing how all of these processes are interconnected. One weak link in your grasp of mathematics weakens your understanding of everything you learn afterward. Ms. Kirkham had the academic future of her students in her hands. This is why she put so much time and energy into her work. Her door was always open if we had questions about an assignment, she wrote notes to let us skip PE class if we needed more time to work, and she even stayed after hours frequently to offer extra tutoring and instruction to those who needed it. Ms. Kirkham expected us to do our
absolute best because she was right there beside us helping us learn however she could. That sort of above-and-beyond commitment isn’t something you get from every teacher. Ms. Kirkham wasn’t just trying to get each of her students a passing grade, she was trying to give us tools to succeed in life — tools that transcend mathematics. I may not use quadratic equations every single day, but I am a big believer in going the extra mile. Tax law, unlike math, is not black and white. Much of what I do is about dealing in shades of gray, charting the best possible path forward for my clients through the web of IRS policies and regulations. Doing this effectively has meant putting in the extra man-hours, making myself as available as possible to my clients, and yes, pushing them to be their best selves. I learned firsthand what a difference that kind of dedication can make, and it wasn’t from a textbook.
Now, Ms. Kirkham was far from our favorite teacher. Much like the subject she taught,
“Ms. Kirkham wasn’t just trying to get each of her students a passing grade, she was trying to give us tools to succeed in life — tools that transcend mathematics.”
she had a reputation for being difficult and uncompromising. Ms. Kirkham was not content to let her students skate by in life. She demanded excellence from us and pushed us to succeed. At the time, that high bar for excellence was daunting, even for me. Math was by far my favorite subject in school because I excelled at it. There’s no ambiguity in equations, no shades of gray in functions — anyone who works hard enough to understand the process, the rules, and the foundations of mathematics can come to the right answer. Ms. Kirkham understood this and knew it
Here’s to all of life’s teachers,
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