Mrs. Elise Anderson hails from sunny Southern California. All that sunshine made for an easy transition to the lovely state of Arizona. Mrs. Anderson is welcoming, fun, approachable, and just an all around awesome math teacher. She teaches two honors math classes: Geometry and Algebra II. We are lucky to have her here at Highland Highschool where she not only imparts her great math knowledge, but she also coaches on the Track Team. It takes a special person of patience and skill to coach pole vaulting and Mrs. Anderson is certainly the right person for the job.
Mrs. Anderson has been teaching math at Highland for six consecutive years. During her own high school years she attended Marina High School in Huntington Beach, California. When asked if she liked math in high school, she replied saying, “Funny enough, I actually hated it until my senior year when I took calculus, and I found it interesting.” She mentioned that it helped immensely that she “had a really fun teacher” to open her eyes to the merrymaking world of math. It is cool that, for six years now, she has been able to pass on that transformative experience to us.
After high school, Mrs. Anderson attended a local community college. Perhaps convenience was a factor in her choice of higher education; as she says, “It was literally right across the street from my house”. There she spent three years trying to discover her career path and decide what she eventually wanted to be when she grew up. When she finally started to narrow things down she says, “I knew I wanted to do something math-related and it wasn’t until I transferred up to BYU Idaho that I started [the] math education route”. When asked if she always wanted to be a teacher, Mrs. Anderson swiftly and charismatically responded with a “Nope!”. She said, “I do not like being in front of people, I was very adamant to not do that.”
Reluctantly, she also admitted, “Dealing with teenagers did not sound most appealing.” The odds were certainly against Mrs. Anderson ever becoming a math teacher. However, there were key moments while attending college that Mrs. Anderson had the opportunity to tutor youngsters. A real pivot took place through this tutoring experience. When describing this change of heart, she says, “I really enjoyed it! I was like, okay maybe I can do this.” The rest is history.
With how well Mrs. Anderson teaches her class, you would think that math had always come easy to her. Nonetheless, when asked if math ever was hard for her she responded saying “Oh my goodness, yes!” Mrs. Anderson’s hardest class in college was Abstract Algebra. She says, “I don’t even know how I passed that class.” There is a lesson here for all of us. At times we may feel frustrated or down when trying to understand math or any other difficult subject. Everyone has been there, even your teachers. The best thing to do is to ask for help. When talking about the mental hurdles of math, Mrs. Anderson mentions, “I had plenty of classes that were definitely difficult but I was lucky to have teachers that were very readily available.” Mrs. Anderson definitely reflects this back into her own teaching style. She understands that math can be hard. She does not judge and she makes herself available to all those that need help. In fact, almost every day she does a tutoring session before and after school for those who may be struggling. Talk about going above and beyond.
In more ways than one Mrs. Anderson goes above and beyond. During the spring you can find her outside with the Track Team, usually among the quirky group holding long poles. Mrs. Anderson was coaxed into coaching pole vaulting her very first year of teaching here at Highland. She has been coaching for six years and loves it. She especially enjoys interacting with the students in a different way; she sees how dynamic the Highland Student Body can be. Interestingly, Mrs. Anderson pole vaulted in high school and says, “I was not the most amazing pole vaulter.” However, like a difficult math problem, she has evolved into quite the solution. On the field, she teaches teamwork. She is engaging with her athletes and she motivates them to achieve their greatest potential. As always, whether in the classroom or out on the field, she is approachable and relatable.
All of Mrs. Anderson’s experiences in high school and college have helped shape the person she is today. Even though Mrs. Anderson didn’t always plan on becoming a teacher, she was still diligent in pursuing her interest. This eventually led her to the path of becoming a teacher. When asked what she enjoys about teaching, she said, “I love learning and I feel like teaching has made me love learning even more.” We are lucky to have such a special teacher who cares about her students and has a vested interest in improving our educational experience. When she became a teacher she did not feel as though much time had passed since she had her own high school experience. This helps her to relate to the students and create more enjoyable interactions. She says, “I know I tease you guys a lot but it’s nice to see you grow and to see your individual personalities. Despite learning a difficult subject like math, I find it interesting to see how many still leave the classroom with a smile on their face.” Throughout her personal educational experience, Mrs. Anderson has been introspective. This has helped her to internalize the things that really shape a positive learning experience. It has shaped who she is today and the amazing teacher she has become. When asked how teaching has impacted her life, she said, “It has made me more humble.” We are thankful to have such a wonderful, thoughtful, fun, engaging teacher. Truly, we are the ones that are humbled to have you here at Highland High School.