Education Technology

Meet the Texas Calculus Teacher Who Won the Spread the Math Love Contest and a Trip to MIT

Posted 10/29/2019 by Ellen Fishpaw (@ellenfishpaw)

San Antonio calculus teacher Walter Meyer thought he was heading to a meeting about funding for a gardening project, but instead he was surprised with cheerleaders, a marching band and news that he was the latest winner in the Texas Instruments (TI) Spread the Math Love Contest.

Walter Meyer San Antonio Math Educator 
Walter Meyer stands with former student Tristan Pepper who nominated him with a touching submission in the Spread the Math Love Contest.

Nominated by his former Earl Warren High School student Tristan Pepper, Meyer learned in front of his principal, family, students and fellow teachers that has was among the winners of the contest and will receive a brand new TI-Nspire™ CX II CAS graphing calculator, along with a trip to Boston to visit MIT.

“It’s all been kind of a blur. One minute I was making copies for a quiz and the next I’m going to Boston on a trip to MIT. So that’s a huge surprise and really great,” said Meyer. He has been teaching mathematics at the San Antonio high school, in the Northside ISD, for 15 years.

Walter Meyer San Antonio Math Educator
Tristan Pepper explaining to his former teacher why he nominated him as his math hero during a surprise pep rally at Earl Warren High School.

“I was really nervous as to how he was going to take it because he’s not big on crowds,” Tristan said. “But overall, I think it went really great, and he was really excited.” Tristan is now a freshman at The University of Texas at San Antonio, where he is majoring in business and biomedical engineering. Tristan took AP® Calculus with Meyer and scored a 5 on the exam. He then went on to become Meyer’s teaching assistant.

Tristan said he learned about the contest from a geometry teacher at the high school, and he immediately knew he wanted to enter Meyer. “I have never met another teacher who is as dedicated to his job and who genuinely cares about their students more than Mr. Meyer. He sacrifices sleep, comfort and many of the pleasures of life in order to supply his students with a better education,” Tristan wrote in his contest submission.

Walter Meyer San Antonio Math Educator 
Math teacher Walter Meyer is one of five winners in the nation for the Texas Instruments Spread the Math Love Contest.

“Basically, this taught me that hard work does pay off. Tristan is a great kid, worthy of my best efforts,” said Meyer, who got choked up talking about his former student Tristan. “It’s literally why I come to work every day. It’s not for paperwork, or angry parents or lunch duty, it’s to help kids realize that the highest levels of math aren’t out of reach; it is something they can be successful at,” Meyer said.

He concluded: “I joke with my students that you can’t win championships in practice, but you can’t win championships without practice, so getting them to buy into the idea that working hard in math is necessary and worth it is what it is all about.”

Meyer and Tristan are both proof that practice makes perfect. HEAR FROM THE WINNING TEACHER AND HIS STUDENT: HERE

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About the author: Ellen Fishpaw is the Media Relations and Communications Manager for Texas Instruments Education Technology. Before joining TI five years ago, Ellen was a broadcast journalist for 13 years, working at television stations across the country, from North Carolina to New Mexico. She most recently worked for NBC 5 in Dallas as a crime reporter before hanging up the microphone for a TI-84 Plus CE. Follow her on Twitter @ellenfishpaw.