Everyone has one class on their schedule that makes them grimace. For me, that class used to be AP Statistics. The thought of working with numbers for hours made me cringe. Not many people enjoy a class where your calculator is your best friend. But little did I know that one teacher was about to change my perspective on numbers.
My first class senior year was AP Statistics. I was the first student in the room. I was greeted by a short, slim man with a small grin on his face. It was the type of grin you see on children as they enter a candy store. I soon noticed that his never went away. This man is my AP Statistics teacher, Mr. Olenchek.
During my first week, I realized this class would not be my least favorite but rather my favorite. With every problem, he would make a pun. When calculating averages, he would say, “Wow, that was a very meaningful statistic.” Sometimes when a student got an answer wrong he would say, “Take that back” or “I will see you in my room half an hour before school for such a treacherous answer.” Although somewhat cheesy, his humor definitely grew on us and makes class interesting.
Also, Mr. O does things differently. Rather than yelling over rowdy students, like most teachers, Mr. Olenchek uses a different method. If you have ever seen golf on TV, you notice the officials holding signs that say, “QUIET.” Mr. O strives to be like them. He sits in the corner of the room raising his sign until silence fills the room.
Along with this technique, he has the infamous “table of death.” If Mr. O catches you on your phone, he commands you to put the device on the “table of death.” Then, as you walk back to your seat, he laughs at you as you take what he calls the walk of shame. These little quirks may not seem important, but they make class enjoyable.
Finally, Mr. Olenchek changed the way I look at a list of numbers. Before, they were just numbers. Now, I understand the importance and application of these “boring” numbers.
Entering my junior year, I was constantly asked what I wanted to do when I grew up. I always responded that I had no idea. But now I know exactly what I want to do. I’m going to major in actuarial science and become an actuary. In this job, numbers are your second best friend – second only to a calculator. Call me crazy, but I can’t wait to work with numbers.
Mr. O changed my view of math. He turned numbers into meaningful statistics and taught me how to use them in everyday life. He is different but in a great way. And this is why Mr. Olenchek is my Educator of the Year.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.