Teachers we admire: Anne Ray
Educator Anne Ray still remembers the bombings she lived through when she was teaching in Pakistan.
For her, the most memorable is the Marriott Hotel bombing of 2008 in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. At least 50 people died and hundreds were injured. It also impacted enrollment at the school where she was teaching.
“School went from 650 to 78 students,” she said. “I was very lucky they didn’t riff me.”
Despite the harrowing moments that Ray has endured over her 33-year teaching career, she’s thankful for the opportunities she’s had to teach around the globe — something she did because she loved to travel.
She has taught in South America, Europe, Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. Now she teaches math and other subjects at Mandela International Magnet School in Santa Fe.
“I met amazingly good people everywhere I went,” Ray said.
Ray has taught students from preschool through college, covering several subjects ranging from art to English to science. Her favorite subject to teach always has been math, and she especially loves teaching middle school. Whether she’s teaching high-schoolers about parabolas or modern math methodologies to teachers from Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Quito, Ecuador, Ray has one main goal in mind.
“I’m hoping to positively influence some people toward reaching their full potential,” she said.
Ray started to think about being a teacher when she was in eighth grade, teaching a young girl how to read. It was the thrill of changing that girl’s life and helping her succeed that compelled Ray to pursue her teaching degree, which she obtained from the University of New Mexico.
Traveling came naturally to Ray, who moved frequently when she was growing up. She was born in Washington, D.C., to parents who were both United Nations ambassadors. For a while, her family lived in Geneva, Switzerland, where her father was posted. But when she was about 3 months old, Ray recalls the repercussions of the late Sen. Joe McCarthy’s “Red Scare” agenda, in which McCarthy (and many others) seemingly found communists in every branch of government, the arts and other professions, ruining careers. Ray’s family moved from a 15-room chateau in Switzerland to a three-room apartment in the ghettos of New York City.
To Ray, one of the most interesting parts of living in different cultures has been learning how people from around the world teach, study and solve math equations.
“They’re all the same math, but around the world, people use different algorithms to solve math problems,” she said.
At first, this realization was surprising to her, but as she read books on multicultural math, it began to make sense, and her passion and interest in math were further piqued.
She also enjoys pottery, writing, gardening and spending time with her family, of whom she is very proud. Because they grew up around the world, all her children are bilingual. Her son was among the last Americans to graduate from high school in Islamabad, a result of the U.S. Embassy sending all dependents home. Luckily, Ray and her family were able to stay because of her teaching career.
That career, Ray said, has had some entertaining and amusing moments. Once, she said, when she was teaching at the former Cristo Rey school in Santa Fe, she was on a field trip with some third-graders when she passed out.
“I had my entire class of students alone with me in the tramway car, and it was a wonderful, beautiful view, a terrific, amazing day. I looked out, and I was pointing at some wild deer way out in the distance, and I fainted. I seem to have an inherent fear of heights, and these little third-graders had to pull me off the tramway,” she remembered. “It was embarrassing.”
Ray hopes her passion for teaching will change the lives of her students. To her, adults and students need and want to learn “because we, as individuals, pursue knowledge.”
Niveditha Bala is a sophomore at Mandela International Magnet School. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.