“I wonder that too, sometimes,” says Ms. Cross, the A.P. Calculus teacher, “because there are so many more students than last year. I think this year there are a lot more kids who are confident in their math ability. Taking an A.P. math class is extremely challenging and intense. I think they really enjoy doing math. The more likely you enjoy doing math the more likely you are to take higher math classes. I also think they’re very confident based on what they did in Pre-Calc; they’re gonna be successful. I also think they want to get the A.P. credit and maybe possibly the college credit, if they pass the exam.”

Even though some students like Yasmine El-Assadi are only taking the class “for college credit” other students like

Eric Paniagua and Ashley Tfaye are taking it because they like math.

“I love math,” says Eric. “I think I’m definitely gonna pursue it in the future.”

Even if students have preconceptions about taking such a rigorous course such as A.P. Calculus, there is no denying the

fact that last year’s students who took the A.P. exam had a 92% pass rate. Which is quite a feat considering that the exam consists of four parts: a multiple choice part with a calculator, a multiple choice part without a calculator, a free response part with a calculator and a free response part without a calculator. The exam is approximately 3 hours and 20 minutes, making it one of the longest exams. Students spend two months preparing for it, so by the time that morning in May rolls around, they should have absolutely no problem!

“We finish the textbook by mid-March and for two months we do practice exams in class. I’ve done four mocks on the weekends, I know they told me last year that when they went to take the A.P. exam it felt like every regular day in my class, because they were so used to taking mocks it was natural, because it seemed like any other test. And usually the mocks are harder so that way when they go and take the A.P. exam you feel very confident in your answers.” Ms. Cross states.

Even if students were indifferent about math, and on the borderline of deciding whether they should take the course or not, they could let a teacher like Ms. Cross be the finally deciding point.

------Want to read more on CMHS teachers? Read Also: Teacher Tenure, Terrible? by Loralee Sepsey and Natalie Tetreault------

“Ms. Cross thought that I would do well in this class, so she suggested I take it, and I did,” said Nik Kieler, who took Pre-calculus/Trigonometry last year with Ms. Cross. “Besides, she’s Ms. Cross; she’s a really good teacher.”

Students can often tell when a teacher teaches because she needs money, and when she teaches because it is what she loves to do. For Ms. Cross, many see that it is the latter.

“Throughout high school I was always tutoring, I always helped people after school and after doing that for so long I thought maybe I would like to be a math teacher. Then in college I started working with some programs that worked in inner city schools where I actually got to go and teach math to kids who didn’t like math and it was really activity-based and really fun and I really, really enjoyed it and that’s when I decided that being a math teacher was what I really wanted to do.” Ms. Cross said.

When students finally fully realize the difficulties of the course, they can make a better decision on whether the class is worth the hardships.

Ms. Cross addresses a major issue regarding the course: “I think when you hear A.P. math you get really scared, especially because you know every year math seems to get harder and harder and harder and it’s very intimidating to take a college level math course as a senior and I think they’re worried that the math is gonna be way over their heads and you know they’re not gonna understand how anything relates or anything like that.”

Students have to really think about why they would take a class that is known to be time-consuming and difficult. Many students will say it looks great on college applications, which is true, but other students, like Quan Nguyen, are taking A.P. Calculus because, well, “it’s math.”

Written by Alondra Villabla |