Everyone has a teacher at some point in their life that makes a huge difference for them. I have never really told mine how much she meant to me and this Thanksgiving I was just thinking about how grateful I am and I realized that I often think about this teacher and what she did for me. I think the world would be a little bit better if we told people more often about the little things they did that had an impact on us so, this is for you Ms. Molitor.
I was not a kid in high school that was lacking in the support department. My parents supported me, my teachers all supported me, I was in student government, sports, drama, etc. I was that kid. I never had a doubt that I end up being successful. But the thing is I had my niche. I was like history smart, English smart, civics smart. I was good at public speaking, extroverted, outgoing. The support I had was always that I would be successful because of my personality, and my eagerness. I think I was always viewed as getting into politics or maybe being on TV, something that played to my natural set of skills.
All of this to say I wasn’t good at math or science. I wasn’t bad. It just took WAY more effort than the other kids in class for me to stay at that level. I was always in the most advanced science or math classes but I struggled to keep up. I think because of my personality and my other strengths my teachers didn’t really push me to really focus on STEM. Like it was pre-accepted by some that, that math and science just wasn’t my strength. Because of that, I think I had accepted that I wasn’t strong in STEM, and focused on other areas more.
Until I met Ms.Molitor. From the start, she captivated me. She is equal parts funny, kind, and willing to help in any way that she can. She left a very successful career working for Adobe to become a math teacher. She traveled the world on a sailboat. She always gave me the impression that she became a teacher for the right reasons, just because she genuinely wanted to help.
The first time I had her as a teacher was in Pre-Calc, I was so lost, I was getting by ok though maybe with a B-. But the grades for Ms. Molitor didn’t matter. She wanted me to learn. She would sit with me after school, no kidding probably 3 days a week for a month, explaining in different ways, what the heck a unit circle was (even though I had the thing memorized), because even though I could complete the problems correctly. She wanted me to understand it, to know why we use it, and that level of learning is beyond memorization. I had never had a teacher care less about the right answer and care more about learning why it’s right.
Every once in a while I would make little comments like “oh I’m never going to major in the STEM field” or “I am not smart enough to work in engineering” and she would with no uncertainty consistently tell me that I absolutely could. As a solid B math student, she encouraged me to sign up for the math team (filled to the brim with the smartest kids in class), and even though I rarely solved the problems quickly enough it made me a better student. I never enjoyed math before, it was just something I knew I had to do, but Ms. Molitor changed my whole perspective.
Ms. Molitor was the reason I signed up for the very first coding class at AHS (something I would have NEVER done before her) she was the reason why I took the AP test, and she is the reason I am going back to school to study computer science today. I used to act surprised when I got an answer right in class, and she would always say (and I remember this so clearly) “of course you did Taylor, you are very smart”. Ms. Molitor consistently showed up for her students, I was on the JV girls basketball team, I mentioned to her I had a game that night, and I was playing and I look up in the stands and there she was cheering us on.
*and I mean it was JV girls basketball which I feel like might have been rather painful to watch lol*
I don’t think I was her favorite student or even close to her best, this is how she treated everyone.
The most important thing she taught me (outside of a unit circle) is that just because I may have to work harder at something to be good at it, doesn’t mean I am any less capable of doing it than anyone else. I will always be grateful for her teaching me that.
I don’t remember a single grade I got in her classes, but I remember very clearly how she made me feel. Thank you Ms. Molitor for everything!