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Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

Math teacher Madison Swan shares special connection to school

Math+teacher+Madison+Swan+teaches+an+AP+Calculus+lesson+on+Nov.+20.
Photo by Hayley Gottesman
Math teacher Madison Swan teaches an AP Calculus lesson on Nov. 20.

The rainbow color-coded problems that line up the brightly-lit Boxlight make learning derivatives slightly more bearable for calculus students in room 261. Behind the neatly organized answer keys and curated class presentations is a desire to truly help students be as successful as possible—this mindset is a regular for math teacher Madison Swan. Swan is in her ninth year of teaching, and fifth year at this school. She currently teaches Honors Algebra 2 and AP Calculus AB.

As a former Patriot herself, Swan is well-acquainted with the school and shares a unique connection with it. During her high school career, Swan was an active student. She participated in challenging coursework and played lacrosse and field hockey, eventually coaching the latter for eight years.

There is no doubt that the road was not easy, however. Swan recalls one specific turning point during her freshman year when she tried out for the soccer team and did not make it. “That was a huge hit to my self-confidence. [But] then I ended up learning about lacrosse. I took a random clinic, I had never picked up a lacrosse stick before, and I played lacrosse for all four years,” Swan said.

Swan’s athletic journey shaped her beliefs, where she values resilience, open-mindedness, and the drive to not be afraid of a challenge. But, her overall high school experiences also influenced her, enough to pursue teaching. “I had a younger sister, and she was a freshman when I was a senior. I would help some of her friends with their math classes and so I kind of naturally started tutoring some kids in my free time and I learned that a lot of people feel very badly about themselves if they’re not successful in math. Really, the main reason why I wanted to become a teacher was to break that and show students that they are more capable than they think they are and ideally make math a little more fun,” Swan said.

Teaching at Cabin John for four years eventually led Swan back to teach at this school, where she is even now able to empathize with students, as she was in their shoes years ago. “Wootton for me as a student was a very challenging experience, but also rewarding. I think I felt similarly to how a lot of my students feel, which is that it’s not easy, but when I got to college, I learned pretty quickly how well-prepared I was. I think that experience made me feel more willing to come back and give to a place that gave me so much,” Swan said.

Swan’s colleagues describe her admirable work ethic and willingness to help students. “She is enthusiastic and she definitely works really hard to present the material in as many ways as possible. She makes sure that students understand the material in a way that makes sense and she helps see that it can be interesting and fun,” math teacher Barbara Silcox, who has worked with Swan in the math department since 2019, said.

Students share similar thoughts. Junior Hannah Han is currently taking AP Calculus AB with Swan as her teacher. “This is the first math class [I have taken] since Algebra 2 that I’m more motivated than usual. I think it’s just her uplifting attitude that affects us,” Han said.

Outside of teaching, Swan enjoys getting to know more about students as a whole, especially considering extracurriculars were a large part of her own school experience. She also loves playing board games in her free time. “I’m definitely a fan of some classics like Sorry, and just some card-playing ones. Two games that I’m very much playing right now are Wingspan and Everdell,” Swan said.

Swan’s general attentiveness and her desire to show students that they can be successful give reason to the fact that she has made a definite impact. “It’s her genuine enthusiasm for teaching that makes us more willing to succeed and it’s not something that other teachers have at this school, so I consider it a blessing,” Han said.

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About the Contributor
Pragna Pothakamuri, staff writer
Sophomore Pragna Pothakamuri is a staff writer in her first year on the Common Sense staff. In her free time, she enjoys writing, listening to music, and spending time with friends and family. You can reach out to her at [email protected].
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