(Originally posted on Facebook on 5/6/2014)
It’s ‘Thank a Teacher’ Day and I wanted to let Len Miller know how much I appreciate him and all he’s done for me and lots of others like me. He was my junior high math teacher, my chess coach, and he certainly started me on a path that helped shape the skills that I use today in my career.
Mr. Miller made math fun, and his classes were the building blocks that equipped me to take advanced math in high school (Thanks Mr. Tingle!) and gave me confidence.
More importantly, I think, are all of the experiences that I was able to be a part of while on the chess team…and the foundation of logic and critical thinking that resulted.
I was able to attend two national chess tournaments: one in junior high and one in high school, and countless others in and around the local (Tucson) area. I learned many things about chess, about teamwork, about friendship, about being underestimated by other teams because I was a girl, about enjoying the heck out of playing touch football with the boys between chess matches and devastated about not being allowed by the school to play on the junior high football team, about managing the clock while playing timed games, about studying chess openings and defending against the four-move checkmate and a never-ending endgame with only a king and a rook. I learned about Minneapolis and St. Louis even though my family didn’t have a lot of money to travel, and I saw the sights, made memories, and expanded my horizons during those trips to the nationals.
To make a long story short (too late!), chess and some early access to Apple computers in the classroom influenced me to be an early computer owner and internet user, which exposed me to massive multiplayer online gaming, which led to a job with an online gaming company as a community manager and game master, which introduced me to a computer scripting language,which gave me a little programming experience and some confidence to apply for a programming internship at a bank, which led to a full time application programming job, which eventually led to the job I have today.
So, Mr. Miller, thank you. You cared about us kids, gave us knowledge, opportunity, and encouraged us. And I know it must have taken a lot of your time, effort, and energy. I’m sure we were a handful and no doubt we took you for granted at the time. We did appreciate it. I appreciate it. I think about it often. What you did mattered, and I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to tell you.