A Spotlight on Ms. Geller and her Final Year at HHS!

A Spotlight on Ms. Geller and her Final Year at HHS!

Sonta Lasser and Harin Lee, Staff Writers

An integral part of the Hastings High School math department, Ms. Christine Geller has worked at HHS for close to thirty years. Known to all as an incredibly dedicated and enthusiastic teacher, she will be sorely missed as she goes into retirement following the end of this school year.

HHS is the only school where Ms. Geller has worked, and she knew for quite some time that being a math teacher was her dream in life. She always knew she wanted to be a teacher, and at the same time, math “was always one of [her] favorite subjects, . . . something that clicked, that [she] always enjoyed doing.” When a 10th grade geometry teacher with an unequivocal passion and enthusiasm for completing proofs came along, it pushed her over the edge. She knew that teaching mathematics to others was what she wanted to do, and “[she] never looked back.”

For many students, the best part of math is the “a-ha” moment where a concept or theory suddenly makes sense – for Ms. Geller, the best part of teaching math is seeing that “a-ha” moment in the eyes of her students. She can “see it go around the room, . . . in the faces and in the eyes of” her students, which she finds to be the most exciting part of her job. In terms of teaching in Hastings, she loves the feeling of the small public school environment, where she can know a majority of students in the graduating class each year. Coming from a high school with over 600 students in her graduating class, she welcomed the opportunity to know each and every student graduating every year for the beginning of her career. As time has passed, the grades have grown larger, and although she no longer knows every student, she appreciates still being able to recognize most of them.

The size of HHS is not the only thing that has changed over the years. The “environment” of the school has as well, which Ms. Geller says is a factor in her retirement. “Times have changed at Hastings, and the environment is different from when [she] started thirty years ago. . . the climate is a different climate.” She wants “to leave on a good note, . . . loving the field of teaching, . . . so the time is right to do it now.” Ms. Geller said that this changing climate is something that the students “are all hearing too,” and that “she would have stayed longer and made it work” if not for this shift in the culture of the district and community. In addition to Hastings having altered over the years, her daughter Rachel is a high school freshman, and Ms. Geller wants to be able to spend time with her before she leaves for college.

Ms. Geller will truly be missed by all in the Hastings community; she is irreplaceable, and her impact on three decades worth of Hastings math students will not be forgotten.


Fun Facts/Q&A with Ms. Geller!


What was your favorite unit/subject in math?


I think it was geometry proofs, just because of the teacher. He took this proof that you do in geometry, and it was something that just clicked for me, how step-by-step you get to the answer.


What are the origins of the candy groups?


I like group work, I like doing random groups. I went to a workshop years ago where they suggested going to Home Depot and getting paint chips, cutting them up, and then matching them. So I did that, but then I said ‘Let me do something that the kids like, they like candy,’ so let me just do candy groups, cause it does the same thing for me, and then they enjoy the piece of candy along the way.


And the kenkens?


Everything has a story. So the kenkens began as a puzzle while I was on maternity leave for Rachel. I wasn’t teaching, and my brain was not being stimulated. I looked to do a puzzle, and the kenkens were something that was fun for me to do and it had a little math in it. I said ‘oh, let me bring it into school,’ cause I thought it was so much fun, hence the kenken extra credit bonus question on all the tests that I give.


What’s one funny memory from a class that you’ve taught?


This is one that I repeat: one of my students asked for a grade for her boyfriend. She asked (and I’m making up the names), ‘How did Tommy do on this test?’ And Tommy had failed the test miserably, and at that point I had just taken a sip of tea in my mouth. I couldn’t hold the tea in; I spit it out. It was on my desk, all over. That was a memorable moment that I tell a lot. I didn’t give the grade, I said Tommy can come and see me on his own.


What’s your favorite hobby or pastime to do with Rachel?


We love baking. I loved baking, and she took it up during COVID, so now we bake together. I look through my magazines for baking and stuff, and she’ll send me something she finds on TikTok or Pinterest or one of the social media sites and says ‘Let’s try this,’ and I say ‘Oh that looks great.’ Some have been good, some have been bad.


What’s your favorite musical artist?


Maroon 5. My family makes fun of it.

Do you have a favorite song?

No. It just plays in the background, I probably couldn’t even name five songs that they do, I just like it in the background.