Opp teacher is golden

Published 11:55 pm Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Most people have endured the stress of a blank sheet of scratch paper and the accompanying mathematics examination filled with mind-boggling equations, but one teacher at Opp High School has made it her mission to lessen the strain of those problems.

OHS math teacher Daphne Patterson, who has served the students of Opp City Schools for 19 years, was recently awarded the CBS 8 Golden Apple Award after being nominated for the award by one of her past students.

“I could not believe it at first,” she said. “Our principal is famous for practical jokes. When he called me up and told me I had been nominated for the Golden Apple, I thought it was a joke. He kept assuring me it was real and informed me I had to dress up Friday.”

OHS principal Jeff Rhodes said he does not think the award could have gone to a better teacher.

“She is a great teacher,” he said. “She has a passion for kids. She goes above and beyond on a daily basis. That is what separates good teachers from bad.”

Jared Boutwell, the student who nominated Patterson for the award, said he would never have been able to succeed in mathematics if it had not been for Patterson’s guidance.

“There are a lot of people in education, but when you find someone who can truly teach you then you have found a diamond,” he said. “I have always had trouble with math and I can easily frustrate a teacher, but Mrs. Patterson was always extremely patient with all the students.

“She always went above and beyond to make sure we understood the material,” he added. “If she needed to stay after school to work with us, then she would not hesitate to volunteer her time. Not all teachers would go to those lengths.”

Noted poet Robert Frost once said “education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” Boutwell said Patterson exemplified those words.

“She never got frustrated with me or any other students,” he said. “She was always willing to repeat the material as many times as it took for us to understand. I will always be thankful for her patience and her understanding.”

Boutwell is currently attending Lurleen B. Wallace Community College in Andalusia and plans to transfer to Troy University in 2010 to pursue a degree in human services.

Patterson said her teaching method is simple and is designed to ensure the material is absorbed and understood by as many students as possible.

“I just try to break it down as simple as possible and follow that up with as much repetition as possible,” she said. “I either bore them to death with it or they get it.”

Patterson said that the classroom and the students have changed substantially over her 19-year career with the OCS.

“I have seen a big change over the last 19 years,” she said. “When I first began teaching you could kind of put the kids more on automatic pilot. They were a little more responsible in doing their seatwork and homework. It is a little harder to get their attention and keep them on track now. I am not sure why that is. Maybe it is because these kids have grown up with so much technology.”

Patterson said it is still a great feeling when students finally understand a theory or equation and connect with the subject matter.

“It is a great feeling when you see the light bulb go off with a student,” she said. “That is what it is all about. That is what keeps me here, knowing that I do make a difference to some.”

When asked why she has chosen to make her career at Opp High School, Patterson offered a simple explanation.

“This is my home,” she said.