Meet Mrs. Coffey, Teacher of the Year


Left to right: son Kevin, husband Dennis, Mrs. Coffey, and son Sean

I have had the honor of having Mrs. Coffey for the last two years in both calculus AB and calculus BC. In the classroom, she exudes passion for math and is always more than happy to help when any of her students need extra assistance. When it was announced that Mrs. Coffey is the 2014 Teacher of the Year, I was not surprised. I had the chance to ask Mrs. Coffey a few questions about her experiences as a teacher.

What has been your favorite moment thus far in the classroom?

“I have a couple of favorite moments in the classroom.  Before I taught calculus I sat in on the former calc  teacher’s class for 2 years.  Many of those students I had had in Alg 2 honors.  I loved sitting in the back hearing the teacher say ‘You should have had this in Alg 2’ and then the students saying, ‘No, they never saw it before’.  As the students were saying ‘no’, I was in the back of the classroom shaking my head yes that I had taught it.

I have been very fortunate to have had several students not just for one or two years but for three years.  It is very unusual for that to happen in a large school like this. One of them was Dylan McCabe.  I had Dylan for 3 years but I had another connection to the McCabe family.  Dylan’s grandmother was the person who hired me here at South and was my first supervisor.

Last year some of the students were absent in Calc BC so the students who were in class wanted to play a trick on them.  One of the students got up to tell the missing class members what we had learned.  He went on for 20 minutes.  Some people were in on the joke and were laughing at how hard some of the missing students were working to copy the notes.   What was even funnier was that some of the students who did not miss the class thought it was real and were copying the notes off the board.”

If you had to give a tip to new teachers about teaching, what would it be?

“Be prepared and know your material.  Class is much easier if you can anticipate what the students might ask and you have an answer ready to go.”

What is your favorite subject to teach and why?

“I love teaching Calculus.  I have been teaching the AP level since 2001.  It has given me great joy to see students walk out of the test confident that they did well because they have been so well prepared to take a major test. I also love geometry.  I have been teaching geometry since I started here in 1977.  I have taught all levels.  Geometry is like a puzzle that fits together so easily.”

When did you discover your love of math?

“I was good in math in 8th grade but when I got to high school I had a teacher for Algebra 1 who I just loved.  I could pick up what she was saying with no problem.  I ended up tutoring a friend in homeroom to get her through  the class.  This teacher invited me to take a new class they were just starting during my sophomore year and I was hooked.  I had 6 math courses in high school and I only had two teachers for them.  Both these teachers influenced me to teach math.”

Congratulations, Mrs. Coffey!