Aftermath of Teacher Support

Kiyana Tartt succeeded in her math classes due to help from her teachers


Courtesy of Kiyana Tartt

Photo of Kiyana Tartt

Senior Kiyana Tartt always had trouble understanding math. In Tartt’s freshman year, she really disliked geometry.

“I’ve always been really bad at math, like really terrible, and if I were to not seek help, I would just fail,” Tartt said. “My freshman year at W-L, I took geometry with Ms. Leslie Harris. I got in [to geometry class] and I was really discouraged. I just did not like the concepts, I didn’t like class, I didn’t like anything that had to do with that class; but I started coming in for GP (Generals Period). Then, [going to GP] became a routine.” 

Tartt began to attend GP all through sophomore and junior year, right up until COVID-19 hit.

“When it comes to a subject that I’m not really good at, I kind of throw my pride out the window, because you’re only hurting yourself in the end,” Tartt said. “Teachers are there to help you, they get paid for that, they want people to ask questions or they’re just there in their room bored.”

One of the many reasons Tartt wanted math help was because of her future career goals.

“I want to major in criminology, that’s what I’m doing, I want to work for the FBI,” Tartt said. “In order to do that, I need to have accounting under my belt and so if I know that I struggle in that now, while I’m ahead, why not master that and develop those skills.” 

Tartt received help from her teachers, Mr. Jim Zarro, who she had trigonometry with in her sophomore year, and Ms. Harris. They helped Tartt throughout her four years of high school.

“Ms. Harris and Mr. Zarro were my people,” Tartt said. “If Ms Harris was busy helping a student, then I would go to Mr. Zarro. I took trig with Mr. Zarro and if I were to get a 85 or a 100 on a quiz or a test, he was three doors down from Ms. Harris. So I’d be like, ‘oh my god, Mr. Zarro can I go show Ms. Harris?’ and he [was] like ‘yeah.’ So I ran over there. If she was in class I would knock on the door and I’d show her the paper, and she would jump up and down in the middle of her class, that was just like our little routine.” 

Ms. Harris gave Tartt advice that she would apply to other subject areas, not just mathematics.

“I definitely think that some of the things that she said to me I will never forget in life, ” Tartt said. “She told me one day … it was just us in an empty classroom, working on a problem, and I was really struggling and I just couldn’t get it … She’s just like, ‘you know that you’re going to have to work ten times harder, work harder than your peers because they’re going to understand a concept way more easily than you will.’ I took that and I used it, I kept coming to every GP. I kept studying and I never gave up, and now I’m in precalc doing completely fine.” 

Tartt has many plans for the future, besides aspiring to be a FBI agent and majoring in criminology.

“My plans for the future [are] majoring in criminology at Virginia Tech,” Tartt said. “[I will] hopefully get my masters in criminal justice or criminology.”

Tartt gives the credit for her math success to her teachers.

“I think I owe it all to  [Ms. Harris], and even though she’s not teaching at W-L anymore, which I’m really sad about, I also use that tactic [with] going to college and whatever job I get in the future,” Tartt said. “ I’ll always push harder than my classmates or peers, regardless if I’m struggling or not, I’ll push harder because of her and Mr. Zarro.”

Despite no longer teaching at the school, Tartt and Ms. Harris still keep in touch.

“We still keep in contact,” Tartt said. “She actually just emailed me recently because she’s pregnant and about to have twins; and so she’s really sad that she can’t be there for graduation but she’s really proud of me.”