Posters with phrases like, “math rocks” and “There’s no crying in math class!” are hung on the walls of Dorothea Culbert’s Mears Middle School classroom. She’s been teaching math for the past 27 years.


“I initially was going to become a college professor of english literature, I have a masters in english lit, and then I just decided I didn’t want the world of academia anymore,” Culbert said. “I wanted to get my hands dirty and I became an elementary teacher, but I’ve always loved math.”


Culbert teaches the fundamentals of algebra and geometry but she also teaches her students to make mistakes; she calls it “growth mind set.”


“Even when they make mistakes their brain is actually growing,” Culbert said. “You actually grow when you make mistakes. That’s a powerful thing, that’s a good thing.”


Culbert is a BP Teacher of Excellence and won the Presidential Award for Mathematics. She travelled to Washington D.C. and shook hands with the President Obama. Surprisingly though, it’s the local honors that mean more to her.


“What I love about the BP award and the Teacher of the Week is that students or parents nominate me, and that makes me feeling amazing,” Culbert said. “That students would take the time to nominate me, feels really good.”


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