BULLHEAD CITY — “Be the change you want to see” is a practice that has guided Anna Boyd’s path.
“I had experience with bad and good teachers,” said Boyd, who teaches honors math at Mohave High School. “I just felt like too many that I experienced were not that good.”
She set out, then, to be a good teacher.
“I felt like I had something to contribute that I was missing,” she said.
Boyd describes math as an ideal subject to teach for several reasons.
“There are no opinions in math,” Boyd said. “It’s black-and-white. You can’t really argue with it.”
That doesn’t mean it’s not interesting, she said.
“It’s 100 percent a discovery,” Boyd said. “It’s not an invention.”
Part of helping her students with that discovery is taking away some of the mystique of the subject, she said.
“I’m trying to get them to see it in their minds’ eye as more than just a foreign language,” she said. “It’s about translating it for them.”
Senior William Bowen, a student in Boyd’s AP calculus class, said the translation is helped by Boyd’s effort to make sure her students understand the material.
“I knew it would be a challenge,” he said. “Math is not my best subject.”
But one-on-one assistance from Boyd after school and on Flex Fridays has helped build his confidence, Bowen said.
Boyd pushes her students to put forth their best effort, she said.
“I get that not everyone likes math and some people are going to struggle with it,” Boyd said. “But it’s not OK to just give up. You gotta keep trying.”
Senior Natalie Willmore said Boyd probably has taught her more than any teacher at Mohave.
“She’s really good at explaining when we’re lost and don’t know how to do a problem,” Willmore said. “It’s not my favorite subject, but she makes it easier, because she’s really good at teaching tricks for when we get stuck.”
Boyd, whom the state has classified as a “highly qualified teacher” for the past three years, said a key to helping students is making sure they can visualize their tasks.
“Math is very conceptual,” she said. “If you don’t have a concept, a grasp of what you’re doing, you’re not going to get it.”
Boyd’s favorite part of her work is the relationships she forms with her students.
“You have the opportunity to be something in someone’s life,” she said. “Someone they can look back at and see that you valued them and gave them strength.”
It’s important that students find adults who can give them support, Boyd said.
“I try to be everything I felt I didn’t have when I was in school,” she continued.
Her classroom is eclectic, with a “Doctor Who” mural and TARDIS and shelves stocked with literature and other non-math books.
“I hate a classroom that looks like a classroom,” Boyd explained. “I took the time to make my room a home.”
There’s a message there, as well.
“A decorated room is a sign to the students as well,” Boyd said. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Boyd said the vibe at MHS makes her want to stay.
“I feel like a part of a family here,” she said. “I’ve never felt that anywhere else I worked. Some places try to, but this place has succeeded.”
Boyd’s students this year are studying topics that include limits, derivatives and integrals. But she also hopes to help them learn about respect and humility.
“If it’s all academics, academics, academics, and you don’t develop relationships, I think you’ve failed,” Boyd said.