laura packardI can’€™t compute.

Nope. I cannot add, subtract, recall, apply, average, multiply, flip, dip or divide numbers higher than 25.

If I spot a rug, you know the kind that really ties the room together, and I EVEN measure it with a handy dandy tape measurer thingy gabob, it will still be too big or too small for the entire surface area of the room.

(Aside: And yes, as the husband points out it would help if I measured the surface area of the room with the tape measurer thingy gabob before I go to the store and find a rug that really ties the room together only to then measure just the rug. But isn’€™t that the whole point of finding a rug that really ties the room together? You are never really looking for it in the first place. It simply finds you when you’€™re the least prepared . . . and broke.)

And speaking of too big, it reminds me of a few wise lines written by Lewis Carrol about our dearly angsty Alice conversing with a very clever door knob that is truly applicable to most things, except for me and math, you see:

Alice: I simply must get through!€

Doorknob: Sorry you’re much too big. Simply impassible.

Alice: You mean impossible?€

Doorknob: No. Impassible. Nothing is impossible.

(Aside #2: Forget the rug. I need a clever talking doorknob. Only, I’€™d have to have measurements for that, too. Dang it.)

I know, I know. If you believe in yourself, you can do anything; move that insurmountable mountain; tame that untamable lion; the world is your oyster; if you build it they will come. First off, mountains don’t move, secondly, I don’t want to be mauled by a wild animal that is untamable (who has time for that?), thirdly, oysters filter water and . . . along with a little Barry White, keep the world populated. And last but not least, you must be really good at math to build anything, as my grandfather would say, that’€™ll hold.

But I will say . . . again: I AM NOT GOOD AT MATH. AT ALL. This is why I write down words for fun.

And I am perfectly okay with that.

So, this is precisely why I am eternally thankful for a sweet, petite super-duper super hero who wields math skills as razor fine as any sword or dagger and spins all things math related from her super smart brain then shoots them out in an intricate design of math wonder to all those kids who pay attention and seek to take that wild ride to the mothership of math greatness along with one of its best teachers.

This mother of all math, as I call her, is actually named Pam Steman, or Ms. Steman as my girls call her.

I must have done one thing correctly in my life to end up here in Beaufort, SC at Beaufort Academy at the precious moment my girls needed this woman the most.

Call it divine intervention, aligning of stars; whatever your religion, we found her. Lucky us.

For teaching:

Variables, expressions, equations . . .

Linear, non-linear, with or without parentheses,

one step, two step,

three step, four . . .

3X + 5=7

Not a problem, for this super hero . . . bring on more.

Pentagons, vertex, line segments,

Scalene, acute . . .

A pint, a chord, radius


Even the obtuse . . .

Nothing about math is now too hard to compute.

Like I said, we sure were lucky to have her teach both the girls Algebra and Geometry and gift them with a solid foundation in mathematics as they move forward in high school, then college, then the world. Ms. Steman is retiring at the end of this school year after many years inspiring minds and teaching important skills so the newest generations coming down the pipe of life CAN and WILL build sturdy bridges that will rise up and cross insurmountable mountains that can’t be moved. Ms. Steman singlehandedly devoted her life to taming the untamable – middle school students. And here is to wishing her many new adventures in her cool mouse car. The world is now her oyster. She built it. Now they will come to succeed as she did before them.

But before she goes I have a few words to share:

Thank you, Ms. Steman, for doing what I could never ever do.

Thank you for not only your fierce intelligence but also your patience and kindness, especially towards my sweet ‘€œfeels everything all at once’€ Livi. I have seen you reassure her over her tears when she thought she had bombed a test. I have watched you gently reassure her that she always does better that she thinks she did. I have read the texts you have sent her immediately after so she didn’€™t spend the whole night worrying: “€œI went ahead and graded your test. See, you got a 98. I told you! Great job.”€

Thank you for your steadfast dedication to my own math genius, Margot, and for going above and beyond in fostering her love of the subject and for challenging her so she never got bored. I have witnessed your strong advocacy for her to take more than one math class; I’ve seen you do everything in your power to inspire and incite that fiery math flame burning within her.

Thank you for being a role model for my girls as a strong, smart, loyal, firm, ‘€œif you do something, do it well’€ woman in what was for so long defined as a “€œman’€™s€ field.” Not anymore.

For this and for everything, thank you.

Maybe nothing is impossible, after all.