Golden Apple: Patty Toepke


(Aiken, S.C.)

Patty Toepke clearly remembers when she knew she was headed for a career in education.

“I decided in 3rd grade that I wanted to be a teacher,” Toepke says. “I was an only child. I played teacher at home by myself. Made the tests. Graded the tests.”

Things have changed over the years, especially when it comes to technology.

“Introducing calculators as just the norm to have in the classroom is a huge difference. Having computers to use is a huge difference. I’ve taught for a while so I started with a chalkboard and chalk, and had an overhead projector. That turned into having a document camera and a smartboard, and a lot of other tools.”

But one thing that hasn’t changed when it comes to teaching Calculus?

“I think you just really have to go step by step. You can’t smooth over and not include, yeah don’t forget you have to do this, and don’t forget there’s this little extra part you have to do in the Calculus class. I tell them you have to remember everything you’ve already done in Math.”

Ms. Toepke is active in her field outside of the classroom. She wants to keep up with trends and never get stuck in a rut.

“We have an Aiken County Council of Teachers of Mathematics. I’ve been a member as long as I can remember. I’ve served as the president, the treasurer, the high school president.”

She really does love math and her school and her peers. But the number one thing that brings Patty Toepke back year after year? Her students.

“I really think the kids make the job,” she says. “I could never see myself in a cubicle by myself doing work. I always like being around students. I think they keep me younger. Every year I learn new terminology for things. You get to see how they do grow from 7th grade to married and having children. They bring you a lot of joy.”

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