Nurturing Students

Not many people sit at their kitchen tables until 11:00 p.m. grading papers and worrying about kids that aren’t biologically theirs. But teachers do.

Cindy Pierce ’86 loves being a seventh and eighth grade teacher at Livonia Middle School because she has the opportunity to help her students every day – not just with their math skills, but with their personal lives.

“As a teacher I try to be as patient and nurturing as possible, especially with this age group,” said Cindy. “The more the students see that I care, the more effort they will give me.”

Cindy’s favorite part about being a teacher is having an impact on a student’s life that goes beyond the classroom.

“Kids will do the little things that let you know they care, or that you helped them somehow,” said Cindy. “They’ll write thank you notes at the end of the year, or come up to me in the store. That’s my favorite part.”

Despite not enjoying the subject as a teenager, Cindy became a tutor in the math lab at SUNY Corning Community College. It was here Cindy realized how much she truly enjoyed helping others. She transferred to Buffalo State College and received a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and mathematics.

“When you ask students what their favorite subject is, it is seldom going to be math,” said the Watkins Glen native. “My job is to find different ways to help those students understand the lesson because you can’t throw a bunch of math at a kid who doesn’t like it and expect them to master the material.”

The frustration and resentment she saw in students toward math led Cindy to pursue her master’s degree in math anxiety from Cambridge College in Boston, Mass.

“You have to be able to communicate with the students and listen to them when they are frustrated because it could be an accumulation of many different things,” said Cindy. “You aren’t just teaching them math. These kids have a lot going on in their lives.”

For Cindy, having a comfortable classroom environment plays an important role in student success. She arranged her desks into a giant square so that the students can work with each other during certain lessons.

“My students know that my classroom is a safe learning environment where they are free to ask questions,” she said.

Cindy is looking forward to the rest of her career as a teacher at Livonia – a place she describes as family-oriented.

“You can walk through the halls at Livonia and know every single face,” she said. “It’s really that small-town feel where everybody cares. I love teaching here.”