Today was my last day (for the next year or so, at least) as a math tutor in the A-B Tech math lab. Tutoring is incredibly rewarding, and I take profound pleasure in helping the students there.
The “math lab” (actually part of the ABTCC Academic Learning Center) is a tutoring center on the grounds of my local community college. It is open only to currently enrolled ABTCC students in math or science. ABTCC being a community college, few of the students we work with are typical college students. Many are displaced workers; some are from other countries. Many are in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. We teach them everything from beginning algebra though calculus, plus a little chemistry and physics.
Many of the students are touchingly grateful. I’ve worked a lot this semester with a woman who is learning algebra for the first time. She’s in her 50s, I guess, very humble and grateful for help. It feels good to help people lose their fear of math.
We tutors always have a great time in the math lab, laughing, chatting, eating junk food, and generally enjoying the company of fellow nerds who get excited about math and science. I’m good friends with everyone else who works there, and will miss Megan and June until I see them again in August. We’ve got a marvelous crew at the ALC, and between us have multiple advanced degrees in math and undergraduate degrees in chemistry, chemical engineering, and physics as well. The ALC is really a marvelous learning center with an attentive, caring, accomplished, and well-educated staff.
And now my time there as a tutor is done — though I’ll be back as a student next month.
This month marks another goodbye, for it looks like I may have taken the last of my classes at A-B Tech. I’m now more or less a junior, and start at UNC-Asheville on August 21. Since I have to work and tend to need at least 4 hours a day for homework (and since in past semesters I’ve all but wrecked my health by taking too many classes), I’m taking only 6 semester hours, or half of a full-time load.
I am saddened and disgusted that I must move forward so slowly. But this is my life too, this time I spend educating myself into something new, and I don’t want to miss out on my present while I work for my future (or put myself in the hospital). It took me a long time to accept that I had to seek balance in work and rest, but losing half your lung capacity due to stress will teach a person a few things about the importance of rest and pleasure in daily life.
I wish I could take a full courseload. I am drooling over the idea of taking Atmospheric Chemistry. But until I am done with the calculus series though Differential Equations, I just can’t load up like I’d like.
I can’t wait to take my first atmospheric science courses. Sigh.