‘Math is now the highlight of my day’: Greensboro 5th grader writes heartwarming letter to teacher who helped her overcome math struggles

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Zoey Crisp struggled in math class for years.

“Out of all the subjects it was the one that took up the most time, and you have the most homework in it, and I had not the best grades in that subject at all,” Zoey said.

That all changed for the Lindley Elementary School fifth grader when she met her math teacher Deena Smith.

“A lot of people call her mean or strict, but I see it where she wants you to get better,” Zoey said.

Getting better is what Zoey did. Her grades started to improve, and math became her favorite subject. 

 “When I came here, she helped me understand it and I didn’t need any extra tutoring at all.”

Tracey Leigh, Zoey’s mother, says that’s when her daughter came up with an idea.

“She asked me to get her teacher her favorite candy, I asked what’s her favorite candy, she likes Jolly Ranchers, so we picked up a thank you card,” Leigh said.

Zoey hand wrote a letter saying:

“At the beginning of the year, I was so scared to be in your class. I thought you were going to be this mean evil teacher. Turns out I was wrong. Last year I didn’t even get to learn decimals, but you have helped me thoroughly understand them.

“You are the only teacher that I know that understands a 5th grader’s point of view. For the past couple of years, I’ve hated math, but you are turning it into one of my favorite subjects. 

“Some people may call your jokes corny, but I call them funny.

“I never thought I would say this, but math is now the highlight of my day. So, if your job is to be the best teacher ever, your mission is complete. So, I just wanted to say thank you.” 

“When she left, I did take a moment and read it, and I kind of skimmed over it and I was like, I can’t read this right now because it’s going to make me cry. Then I took a moment and once my kids were working on something I really read it. I was like, ‘oh my gosh,’ and my kids were, ‘Ms. Smith, are you OK?’ I’m like, ‘I’m fine,'” Smith said.

She says it’s a highlight in her more than two decades of teaching, and a moment she’ll never forget. 

“Teaching is my job, it’s my profession. To know that I made that difference means everything,” Smith said.

Although Zoey is giving the credit to her teacher for overcoming an obstacle, Smith says it’s a testament to the hard work and determination Zoey has, which should be an example to other students that they can be successful if they work hard.

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