Passion in Beauty
"Ah!" a series of short screams fill the classroom. Sora Park, who was my first math teacher in middle school, walks down along the line of students who did not do their assignments, pinching the inside of their upper arms. This is how she punished. She always did this whenever her students did not do their jobs. I was not a kind of student who worked hard on assignments and that is why the pain from that pinching comes across my mind far ahead of her outstanding beauty. She was really beautiful. No one could catch it from her appearance that she was a mother of two sons. She was slim and tall. Her long hair was dark brown and softly curled. She had big brown eyes and great smile. Although she was a completely native Korean, she resembled Jessica Alba a lot, which made her a quite local celebrity around my neighborhood.
Mrs. Park was not only well known for her beauty and the painful pinching but for her effective teaching skills. She was the most effective at improving learning outcomes from her students. Mrs. Park was a diligent teacher. She always prepared a lot before each class and did her best to make hard concepts easier to understand. The most distinctive characteristic of her teaching was the strong emphasis on review. She had us review what we learned and keep a so called "math diary," a note where we wrote what we learned from each math class "in our own words." It was the main assignment in her class and that was what made us get pinched. At that time, I hated that she forced us to spend so much time to review in such a demanding way. But as I grew and went to high school, I thanked her a lot. Most of what she taught me remained in my head, almost sculptured in my brain while mathematical concepts that I learned from the other math teachers mostly faded away.
Mrs. Park had a special passion toward learning. She was not only herself a very passionate teacher but also the most passionate learner. Although she was in her early thirties, she never stopped engaging herself in something new. At that time, she was learning about Art therapy which was clearly far away from her profession. Art therapy is a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings and deal with clients' psychological or behavioral issues; reconciling emotional conflicts, fostering self-awareness, developing social skills, improving reality orientation, reducing anxiety, and increasing self-esteem. She was taking a graduate course to become an art therapist. She willingly shared what she learned with us after school through the special class she made up. She must have been very busy with the care of both her own job, which is teaching, and the graduate course. But she showed us that doing what we want is not a reasonable excuse for neglecting what we have to do. Mrs. Park was the most beautiful woman as well as the most energetic and passionate teacher I've ever met and will be throughout my life.