Ms. Rasti

Friday, Jan. 26, 2024

Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,

Happy Friday!

Every year on the occasion of the International Day of Education, I reflect, with fond memories on my fifth-grade math teacher and her genius in “herding cats” and teaching them math! Ms. Rasti had figured out that the most critical aspect of teaching and learning is connecting. She started every session of the class with a five-minute piece of a year-long mystery story, always stopping at a critical point in the plot, to focus our attention before she started the day’s lesson. Eager to know what happened next, we were focused and connected. Her approach, along with her high bar of performance expectation, resulted in not only great learning but also in the love of the “difficult” subject, math.

To be sure, Ms. Rasti was demanding, established clear left and right boundaries, and kept everyone moving toward the goal of mastery of foundational math. Like all influential teachers, it was how she talked about the importance of learning, the process of learning, the values she valued and the fact that she could only teach us but not “learn” us! She could encourage and incentivize, but motivation had to come from within, and it was up to us to nurture it. Ms. Rasti deeply influenced our thinking and our approach, not only to schoolwork, but also in life and its challenges.

Having worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, I noticed that the founders of both world-class organizations, Ernest Lawrence and Merle Tuve, attended a public grade school in the small South Dakota town of Canton. I often wonder about the teacher who influenced these world-class scientists. Who was their Ms. Rasti?

Who was your hero teacher? The teacher with candor and contagious confidence who made you believe that you can make a difference and, as a result, influenced the trajectory of your life. Who was your Ms. Rasti?

Here at S&T, our faculty model excellence in teaching, service, and experiential learning, and we honor their efforts in creating meaningful learning opportunities for our students. And, given the persisting national teacher shortage issue, we have established our teacher education program to address the 3,500 vacant teaching positions across Missouri. More than 100 S&T students are currently pursuing teacher certification in concentration areas of applied mathematics, biological sciences, business and management systems, chemistry, economics, English, history, physics, psychology, and world languages.

It is heartening to know that many of our teacher alumni are recognized by the 
Missouri Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (MACTE) as Outstanding Teachers. MACTE has also recognized our own faculty with Educator of Excellence awards. Internally we call attention to teaching excellence, and foster improvements in teaching and learning by recognizing our distinguished teachers as Curators’ Distinguished faculty, among many other recognitions.

More broadly, we reach out to children as young as preschool age through the Kummer Center for STEM Education, where children first experience S&T through fun, hands-on activities at community events, summer camps, free tutoring, campus visits or our STEM Mobile experiences. Our Project Lead The Way offers a large variety of equipment, training and support for K-12 teachers, and S&T is home to South Central Regional Professional Development Center, which provides training to teachers in 13 counties and from 63 school districts.

Finally, to all educators and all of the Ms. Rastis of the world, I say thank you for your important service and the positive impact on society that you make. I have no idea if my fifth-grade math teacher, Ms. Rasti, the petite beautiful woman who was a giant figure in my life, is still alive. But I would love nothing more than to tell her in person that “you won’t remember me, but I want you to know how important you have been in my life.” I can only imagine that my words would be mixed with tears and would be uttered as ineloquently as they are simple. On reflection, as a teacher myself, those words might be all that Ms. Rasti would want to hear.



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Mohammad Dehghani, PhD
Chancellor | 573-341-4116

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