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Thomas has enjoyed the past 41 years

LANETT — For the past 41 years, Ann Thomas has been a high school math teacher at Springwood School and she loves the experience.

“I love watching them learn and helping them develop over the years,” she said.

Thomas said one of the highlights is teaching her seniors Calculus. Due to its challenging nature, the students get visibly excited when they master it.

“It brings me excitement,” she said.

Thomas also enjoys molding her 9th graders.

“They need discipline, strictness and training to be a high school student,” she said. “High school is different. It’s more structured and demanding.”

Thomas noted that she sees more of her students struggle with Algebra II more than anything else.

“It’s the bridge between Algebra I and Pre-Calculus and most students are not sure they can handle it,” she said. “Eventually they do. They struggle but everyone always  gets through it.”

Thomas’ curriculum involves a variety of teaching tools, including desks with graphing areas printed on them, but her students really enjoy using the calculators, despite Thomas having a lower opinion of the tool.

“My opinion is if you can only do math on a calculator, you don’t know math,” she said, noting many students are not initially appreciative of the subject. “It’s the most hated but when students get to college they come back here and say they appreciated it. It’s the long term results. Most of my students have done that and some have exceeded it.”

Thomas recalled one student that struggled in her class for years that now has a doctorate and teaches at Auburn.

Her love of math started at  a young age with her grandfather, who played math games with her.

“I taught my dolls those games when I was 4- and 5-years-old,” Thomas said. “There was never anything else that appealed to me.”

That lifelong love of math looks like it will continue into the future with Thomas saying she has no plans to retire anytime soon.

“I told [Headmaster Rick] Johnson I would be here as long as I am having fun,” she said. “If I’m not then it’s time to go home. That hasn’t happened yet.

“I’ve got 46 years total of teaching. I’ve loved it here.”

Outside of the classroom, Thomas is an avid reader, ingesting anything she can get her hands on, and lists Ayn Rand as one of her favorite authors.

She is also a fan of puzzles, with her current favorite type being escape rooms, which she plays with her children and their spouses.

“It’s part of a Christmas tradition and we each bring our own area of focus,” she said.

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