50th Edition, Education

Faculty Focus: Mary Scott

By Denebola
Published: February 2011

By Shira Gans,
Volume 33
December 23, 1993

If someone were to ask you to name the best teacher you ever had, you would most likely remember the glowing mentor who taught you to interpret Dostoyevsky, but in this case, the woman who taught you parabolas will most likely spark wonderful memories. Though math itself may be a most soporific institution, one Newton South math teacher has managed to instill enthusiasm in students lucky enough to benefit from her pedagogical prowess. This teacher is Mary Scott.
Scott attended Boston College. After graduation, she moved to California to teach junior high school at the San Mateo School, located south of San Francisco. Upon her return to the Boston area, she taught at the Martin Luther King School in Dorchester and at Bigelow Junior High. Scott has been a teacher at South for seven years and says that she has “no aspirations to go anywhere [else]…” and she is “…very happy here.”
Scott has many interests other than ellipses and quadratic equations. She enjoys the theater and often attends local productions in the Newton Highlands. Scott also loves nature and enjoys traveling with her family. Last year she went on a hiking trip with her husband, son, and daughter in Glacier National Park, Montana, and also visited Tuscan, Arizona. This summer Scott plans to go to the Redwood Forest and Crater Lake, Oregon with her family. When she is not teaching, she is busy “schlepping” to little league and soccer games.Scott’s goal for this spring is to get a dog.
When asked her opinion of this humble establishment we call South, Scott had nothing to offer but praise. “I’m very impressed by both the motivation of the student and the teaching staff.”
Scott says that she is “always learning something new” and considers herself “a life long learner.” One of the reasons for her contentment at South is that she is constantly learning from her fellow teachers and through the conferences which school funding allows teachers to attend.
Scott is also impressed by the new technology available at south and finds the new graphing calculators especially exciting. Though on the whole, Scott rated South as a “really good school,” there re few things she would like to see changed. “I’m a little disturbed by the pressure the students feel,” Scott said. She also believes it is “absolutely a crime that we don’t have math fives a week.”
Scott is known by her students for her lively and enthusiastic attitude, yet at the same time she challenges her students and does not tolerate carelessness. The demanding side of her personality is balanced by the humor and levity she adds to every class. For those who have had her as a teacher, such phrases “hey, look up here it’s educational television,” “hold the phone,” and “who you gonna call?—Pythag!” ring a familiar bell. Her catch phrases and math puns help to make a 50-minute class of equations and postulates bearable. She has been known to liven up class by speaking in foreign accents (chiefly Transylvanian) an on occasion, if you are lucky, breaking out into song.
Sophomore Dennis McKinley said, “she’s not boring and monotonous. She has a sense of humor and she’s enthusiastic.”
Students who have Scott all find her to be a great teacher, She makes math class as interesting as it can be,” sophomore Shinya Hirayama said. Scott is also known for giving her students the necessary individual attention. If you are willing to stay after to get help extra help. Scott will stay there with out or as long as it takes for you to understand. In fact, she often stays at school as late as five or six o’clock. “I thought she was really enthusiastic and she gave me the attention I needed. I’ve never seen a teacher keep the attention of so many students,” junior Lindsey Carroll said.
Many consider Scott to be one of the finest teachers at South. She deserves this title not only because of her ability to explain math in a clear and interesting manner, but also because of her devotion to students and teaching. Junior Mike Stanley eloquently summed up the prevailing sentiment on Scott. “Scott is amongst the best teachers I have ever had.”

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