Osbourn Park math teachers Martha Cannon and Edward Burt will be retiring in June after a long, illustrious career at the local school.
Everyday for the past four decades, she has made life difficult for her students.
"When you walk into Mrs. Cannon's classroom you are expected to learn, whether you like it or not. She forces us to do things we thought were not possible," senior Katie Ricks said.
To her students, she is known as the demanding Ms. Cannon. To her staff and peers, she is the gentle and kind-hearted woman known as Martha.
Cannon has been teaching math at the school for the past 37 years. Second to only Miss. Lillian Orlich, Cannon is the longest serving teacher in the county.
“She [Miss Orlich] is the top of the heap and I am in second,” Cannon said.
As a young child, Cannon sensed that her future lied in teaching. "As a high school Algebra I student, I thought the course was pretty cool, and a lot of people in my family were teachers, so I thought I would be a math teacher," she said.
When asked if she considered any other careers at the time, Cannon said she was also interested in being a stewardess, missionary or nurse.
Since beginning her career at a county school in 1975, she has seen and experienced many changes.
From Walkmans being replaced by iPods; computers and cellphones becoming mainstream commodities; witnessing a dark day in September 11 and a bright one in the election of the nation's first black President; and various tastes in teenage fashion, Cannon has remained the one constant in changing times.
“On September 11, the entire school was stunned. There was one television on in a history class I believe and soon word travelled and everyone was watching it,” Cannon said. “I had a girl in my class whose father worked in the Pentagon and mother worked as a flight attendant. She was very worried about their safety because she had no way to communicate with them.”
With only a few days till retirement, Cannon believes she made the right choice in becoming a teacher.
"I'm going to miss teaching kids and spending time with them," Cannon said.
Cannon looks to spend more time with her family and enjoy opportunities once limited by her schedule once she's retired. “I want to travel, clean up my house, volunteer in the community, and maybe spend time in the gym,” she said.
With her long career coming to its end, Cannon has only one wish: “I hope I made a difference in someone’s life."
“He taught me how to think analytically and his famous saying is 'when you don’t know what to do, do something,'" said senior Ryan Flesch of Mr. Burt, who's been teaching and guiding students for the last 40 years.
"What I'm going to miss is a teacher who was able to eloquently explain material and still have fun. By far, one of the best [teachers] I had or will have," senior John Martin said.
To explain his teaching career, Burt provided a mathematical explanation. He’s taught a minimum of 100 students. He has 32 quizzes per year with an average of 10 questions; 12 tests a year with an average 35 questions; there are 150 questions on his midterm and final exams. “After doing the math, I have corrected 3,560,000 problems at the minimum throughout the years. Needless to say, I needed more than one red pen and I’m tired,” Burt said.
At the school, Burt has been teaching AB and BC Calculus, known as one of the more challenging math courses offered at the school. But Burt has managed to help students understand the material.
“[With Mr. Burt leaving the school], the school is losing the best mathematical educator it has gotten. He turned the most difficult of math into something everyone can understand,” senior Dagoberto Valladares said.
Students and teachers alike are grateful for both Cannon's and Burt's efforts in helping students and teachers around the school.
“It’s sad to see them both go. I saw Cannon and Burt as mentors and looked up to them for advice and guidance,” fellow teacher Tammy Ambrose said. “They will be missed."