With 46 years in the classroom, Patricia Nash has become the model of excellence at Huntsville ISD.
Nash, a Jasper native, always knew she wanted to be a Bearkat, and it didn’t hurt that her husband-to-be was headed there on a scholarship.
Nash began her education at Sam Houston State University as an education major with the intent of teaching calculus, however the Mance Park teacher said, “the Lord had other plans.”
Nash began as a seventh grade student teacher and was offered a full time position the day she graduated from Sam Houston. After 10-11 years, Nash was moved to eighth grade algebra and has not looked back since.
“There’s nothing better than teaching algebra. I’m living the dream … I get to teach the best subject to the best kids in the best district,” Nash said.
As a long time veteran of the district, Nash has seen dramatic changes, not only in building development, but education and classroom technology.
“I was the first person in the district to get an overhead projector and I thought I was in heaven, because I could make all of my transparencies in advance and put them up on the projector,” Nash said. “I just thought that was the neatest thing that ever was. Now we use promethium boards, the kids have Chrome Books and they don’t even know what an overhead projector is.”
Nash was also the first teacher in the district to get graphing calculators, first introduced to her as a large box that was later scaled down to a smaller size for the classroom.
“The kids don’t have that same appreciation for technology because it’s so much a part of their everyday lives, but for those of us who have been in education for a while- those are dramatic changes,” Nash said.
Not growing up with technology has been Nash’s greatest challenge in the classroom, however the algebra teacher is a lifelong learner and actively sets herself in the role of a student.
Nash’s students love teaching her new things, especially when it comes to technology, and the kids even notice algebraic patterns and new techniques to show their teacher.
“The day I stop learning is the day I need to walk out of the classroom because I need to be a student too,” Nash said.
Nash understands that not every student will share the same love of Algebra as her, nor will the subject be every student’s “thing”. Regardless, Nash believes in her students’ ability to succeed and have fun once in a while during class– although she stressed that fun is not the primary goal.
The algebra teacher brings math to life by having students shoot rubber band cannons and measuring the distance in relation to the angle to create a formula.
“The patterns that you see and how they can be connected to the algebra, to me, is fascinating,” Nash said.
While education and technology have constantly changed over the course of her career, Nash said that the kids have not.
“People say that the kids have changed- they haven’t. They still pull the same stunts, do the same stupid stuff, get in trouble in the same way as they did 46 years ago,” Nash said. “I’ve seen it all and then some, probably.”
Nash hopes that her students take P.R.I.D.E. away from her class, a school acronym standing for professional, respectful, integrity, determination, and empathy; behavioral traits that the school hopes to instill in its students for a successful life.
It is clear that Nash has instilled more than just P.R.I.D.E. in her students as she receives emails years later giving thanks and reciting her own rhymes created to teach algebraic methods.
“The fact that I have obviously instilled some mathematics in these kids, that’s my greatest achievement,” Nash said, though she hopes her faith and love of her students comes through in her teaching as well.
“(Nash’s) passion and drive is to be admired, but it is her high expectations for her students —and more importantly, herself – that drives her instruction,” Mance Park Middle School principal, Josh Campbell said. “She is the model of what each of us aspires to become. She personifies the belief that ‘I will be better tomorrow than I am today,’ and instills this same belief in her students.”