Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mr. Hodges

I have a colleague, Brad Simmons, that was far from the most outstanding student in high school. His daughter now attends the same school he went to as a teenager. He saw her schedule for junior year and recognized Mr. Hodges, his old science teacher. Brad told his daughter, "That was my favorite teacher. I had him for chemistry and physics. He even took us on a backpacking trip. You're really going to enjoy that class."

Her first day of class Mr Hodges called roll:

"Shannon Simmons. Are you the daughter of Brad Simmons?"
"You'll have to go to the office and get a schedule change. I only need one Simmons in a career."

And that was his favorite teacher.

Thought of the Week

Having 15 drunk guys under the age of 25 in the same limousine may not be a great idea.

Fail Blog of the Week

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I'm in St. Louis with my grandma, who turns 94 in September. Earlier tonight she was talking about shopping for a dress to wear for my cousin's wedding.

"They probably never sold it for that much, but it had a $280 tag on it. It was marked 50% off. $140 for a dress is a little extravagant, but I really liked it so I decided it to buy it. I figured they could bury me in it too."

Thought of the Week

If you want more money, don't spend so much.

Father's Day Fail

Sunday, June 14, 2009

How I Know

I told my students one day last month that at the end of the year I want them to be able to say, “For one hour a day for one year I was in Mr. Burrill’s class and my life is a little better off because of it.” I went on to say that I want them to desire to be that type of person too. That their friends and family can say to them, “My life is a little better off because you’re in it.”

At the end of the year I had each of my students write me a letter. This is why I’ve cried several times in the last week. Here are some excerpts from their letters:

You’ve seen me be stupid both in math and in life and always offered advice even if it wasn’t something I wanted to hear... I hope next year I get a teacher half as cool as you or half as smart in life stuff, and that will worry about me in all my classes.

I learned a lot in your class, not just math. I learned that you could go out with more than one person as long as you hadn’t had “the talk.” I learned big words and when I use them people ask if I know what it means. Yeah, they think I’m not smart, but it’s funny when I tell them what it means… I think being in your class made it a lot easier to go on in life. All the things I learned made me feel less worried about what tomorrow or the future might hold for me.

I learned so much my mom and family thinks I’m a nerd now.

You like made me into a person that really does care. Like at first I didn’t but now it means the world to me. Omg. Thank you and imma miss you.

By the way this is the only math class I was able to maintain a C average. Now with the motivation you have given me I feel that I can do greater things throughout life. Thanks for being a great teacher.

My favorite part of this year was the day when you were talking about life and almost every person looked like they were going to cry. The reason that sad day was my favorite was because I realized that the people that care about you want the best for you and want you to be happy. So thank you for helping me realize that. And trust me many people have tried but you really succeeded. Thank You!

You’ve made a lot of sacrifices for your students. Your whole perspective on life is just so awesome. I just overcame homelessness (if that’s a word) when you showed, “The Pursuit of Happiness.” It showed a more meaningful side to you than I had ever expected to see in a “Math teacher.” Um… but really you had a serious impact on my life. Thanks.

Dear Mr. Burrill,
Of all the math classes I had before, this class was the best. Not only did I learn math from you, but I also learned about life. This class was a pretty cool class. Ever since the 2nd grade or maybe since kindergarten (I don’t exactly remember), I’ve been really horrible at math, which sucked. Then I came to 8th grade (woohoo), so on the first day here- I thought, “Oh, yeah, I’m going to fail this class.” So after we took the first test, my score was a B+ or a B. Of course, I was happy and shocked. When I showed the score to my dad, he said, “that’s great, but you’re gonna fail the rest of the tests like you always do.”
Hah! Look at me now. I passed every math test we took in this class and my grade was good all year. After a few years, I’ll come to visit you (if you’re still here). Thank you.

She did way more than just pass; she ended the year with a 97% in my class.

One girl handed me a card that read:
One seed can start a garden.
One smile can lift a spirit.
One candle can light a room.
One conversation can start a friendship.
One person can make all the difference – that one is you.

Now that I know you better you remind me of my uncle Wayne, who I just lost in the summer, and I thought life will never be the same. That is until I met you. You make it seem that I just got him back. So here’s the truth: I hate math, but I love the teacher, as a good family member. And it’s going to suck when I leave because I just lost him again.

Thank you for all you've taught me and I guess I've accomplished one of your goals: My life is a little bit better now that I've taken your class.

Thought of the Week

Sometimes the thought of going to school is more fun than actually going to school.

Fail Blog of the Week

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Master's Level

I'm sitting in my Master's class. The professor just said, "We have 18 people in the class. So let's do eight presentations tonight, and eight tomorrow night."

I didn't ask what the other two people are going to do; she already doesn't like me.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Accidental Astronomy

Today I was researching a math intervention curriculum when all of the sudden my computer started talking. I only had two browsers open, but it still took me a minute to locate it. I listened to the words as I tried to find the source:

...the hercules globular cluster, which is also called M13. It is Called M13 because this object is the 13th of Charles Messier's 1764 catalog of celestial objects.

Really? I never took an astronomy class in college, and right now I have no regrets about that. This has to be one of the six most uninteresting things I've learned all year. I say this even after now knowing that Charles Messier was not the discoverer of this cluster.* Being that 2009 is the international year of astronomy (don't worry. I just found that out too) I will provide you with the link so you too can hear the video.

If the video is no longer there you can read about the focal points of the math intervention program. I'm sure that has to be at least equally as stimulating.

*M13 was actually discovered 50 years earlier by Edmund Halley.

Thought of the Week

Well done is better than well said.
--Benjamin Franklin



I was going to rob the place, but then I saw
the sign...