21st Century Media student submission by: Audrey Perdue
Video presented by: Smithville Media Network Broadcast Staff
The Hawkes mathematics program was never easy for anyone.
When student Chris Becker found one of his closest friends breaking down in the Truman State library over said program, he automatically became her cheerleader. He took it upon himself to tutor her, but thought nothing of it at the time. His personality made it come naturally.
Something about seeing her excitement after finally passing her first test gave him, as he called it, a kind of “high.” His whole life, Becker had felt drawn to help others, and he’d finally found his calling to do so.
Fast forward to Smithville High School in 2018. Becker stands before a class of frustrated seniors and juniors, listening to them complain about the very same program his friend had struggled with in college, years before. His knack for tutoring math led him to become one of the most beloved math teachers in the building.
“I knew that I was going to be something related to math or bio, and I always had ‘teacher’ in the back of my mind, but I was always like, ‘nah, that’s only a fallback,’” said Becker.
Despite it originally being his fallback plan, his teaching has done wonders for many students. Students agree that what makes Becker different is his pure joy and vibrancy, even on his bad days. Though he thinks he can be “a little too tenacious,” his tenacity makes his passionate personality all the more contagious.
“What makes Mr. Becker a good teacher is how he’s constantly engaged, and he really, truly loves his subject,” said Laura Alexander, senior. Alexis Bryant, senior, nodded in agreement with Alexander and added, “He’s more excited to teach us than he is about math, and that’s what makes it count.”
Along with teaching, Becker holds a notable role as a Student Council advisor. Teaching mostly seniors, he doesn’t often get the chance to see students grow through their high school career. Being a part of Student Council has brought him these connections.
“If you need help in STUCO, you can always go to Mr. Becker…he’s always happy to be there for you,” said Katie Lawlor, junior.
Becker’s way of relating to his students allows him to give them the kind of safe space they don’t find in many other classrooms. As an advisor of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), Becker does his best to make students of every kind feel at home during their time at Smithville, whether that student is a member of the GSA, on STUCO, or just a student in his math class.
With a middle desk drawer filled with thank-you notes that he keeps “to get him through the bad days,” and a wide reach across the student body, Becker has truly made his mark on Smithville High School. Despite this success, he still plans to keep improving.
“I’ve learned to have a growth mentality, you have to keep on changing, you have to have goals, and if you don’t, you’re doing something wrong with your life,” said Becker, with a laugh. “I never want to peak.”