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The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

Growing Exponentially: How a Math Teacher Goes Above and Beyond

Woodbridge High students share praise about an accomplished math teacher’s impact on campus
Annabelle Ko
Donavan helps AP Calculus BC students at the weekly calculus party.

One of the most valuable aspects of Woodbridge High is the teachers. 

Teachers only see their students three times a week and are often challenged to maximize class time. To make the most of the 220 minutes they have with students each week, they must find unique ways to craft engaging and informative lesson plans. 

“Teachers are so [impactful] to my day. What I learn, how I learn it, and their energy is all so important to whether the class is enjoyable,” junior Ethan Yu said.

Woodbridge High math teacher Kristie Donavan is an exemplary role model for teachers aspiring to make big impacts in a student’s life. 

With the pleasure of being a mathematics teacher for over a decade, Donavan has worked with over a thousand students coming from different grade levels, backgrounds, and understandings of math. Her passion for teaching has brought great success to her career and the students.

Donavan’s success has been reflected by her presidential recognition as a finalist of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) these past two school years.

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are the highest honors bestowed by the United States government specifically for K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics teaching, according to PAEMST.

“I feel incredibly honored to be recognized by the National Science Foundation. It validates the hard work that I put in each day to create experiences for students learning math,” Donavan said. 

This award aims to recognize teachers who have a strong ability to motivate and contribute to student learning. The PAEMST honors teachers who show dedication and passion for student achievement, like Donavan. 

Junior Benjamin Shih, a student of hers for two years, discusses the importance of having teachers like her. 

“It’s good to have a teacher that is there to help you progress when it is seemingly impossible,” Shih said. He highlights Donavan’s strong ability to connect with students and commitment to teaching mathematics, a subject that many individuals have difficulty with.

To support the learning of her students, Donavan hosts exciting, weekly calculus parties. Every Wednesday after school, Donavan opens her door to an inviting atmosphere filled with math. In this space, Woodbridge High students can comfortably learn and make mistakes. 

 “She is always considerate in bringing snacks for [AP Calculus BC students] while helping [them] understand,” Shih said.

Another one of Donavan’s greatest characteristics is her intentionality. Students can always see that she truly cares for them. As a teacher, Donavan does her best to support her students academically, emotionally, and socially.

Junior Aarushi Ghildyal adds to this notion. 

“I’m really thankful for her and I’m thankful for how funny and supportive she is. I love her and I think she’s one of the best math teachers I’ve ever had and I ever will have. She taught me a lot of lessons that I plan to use in my future,” Ghildyal said. 

Ghildyal goes on to say that Donovan’s passion and intentionality for teaching are commendable. 

“She’s passionate. She just has the passion [to take] care of [her] students,” Ghildyal said, “I commend her because she teaches [multiple] math levels and offers so many opportunities and resources. [She] does her best to take a different approach to learning.” 

Even as a teacher, Donavan is constantly learning from her students. 

“The longer I teach, the more clearly I see that I cannot “do” for my students, I can only support them in their learning journeys and help them find their own success,” Donavan said.  

She hopes to encourage students to take accountability for their learning and always strives to empower them through success in mathematics. 

The learning experience of an individual benefits more than just the student themselves, it also brings joy to teachers as Donavan highlights. 

“When I can support a student in finding success, especially on a problem or concept that was particularly challenging, I find a lot of joy and pride in their triumph,” Donavan said. 

She is looking forward to supporting her students’ work ethics and critical thinking skills that can be taught through math but play a substantial role in their lives. 

Donavan is motivated to innovate, inspire, and impact the mathematics program at Woodbridge High and one day, hopes to be a part of the 110 teachers across the nation who receive the great honor of the PAEMST. 

In the meantime, she continues to contribute to the daily livelihood of high school students and looks forward to guiding them through mathematics and life during class time and Calculus parties.

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About the Contributor
Annabelle Ko, In-Depth Editor
Hey Warriors! I am very honored to be your In-Depth Editor for the Golden Arrow this year. My name is Annabelle Ko and this is my second year in journalism. I am looking forward to producing print issues and website stories that tell the story of all students and staff at our school! I hope to grow as a journalist and highlight the people and activities that make Woodbridge unique. Happy reading everyone!