“Oh!… what do you train them on?” my sister asked.

“Mostly risk-taking in the classroom,” I responded, trying to sum up La Cucina Matematica into a few words. “Since most degree programs prepare teachers to teach the same way that they were taught, John and I try to get teachers to explore more interesting ways to teach.”

Good!” Bethany huffed. “You don’t hear about excellent teachers very often, just the awful ones. The ones on the news.”

“No shit,” I agreed. “Getting students excited about school is a different skill set. A teacher named Dave Burgess wrote a book about it.”

As I explained Teach Like A Pirate to my soon-to-be-doctoral-degreed sister, she exclaimed into the phone, “Like Ms. Mega!”

I asked Bethany to elaborate, and she told me this story.


When I was in 6th grade, Ms. Mega answered the door after lunch dressed like a doctor. She welcomed us into class with her hands held up like she had just scrubbed in to surgery. Written on the board was the word PREPOSITION in huge letters.

We filed quietly into our seats, unsure of what came next. Were we in trouble? Is there some kind of outbreak? Are we in quarantine?

“I need a volunteer!” Ms. Mega proclaimed loudly from the front of the class. in front of two student desks. While all of us were curious, my friend Sheree was the only one who raised her hand. “Sheree, please come lay on the desk.”

I was so glad I didn’t volunteer; I don’t want to have elective surgery at school.

Once Sheree was laying across the two student desks, Ms. Mega wrote the word “ON” below “PREPOSITION” on the board.

“Sheree is on the desk. She is in Prep Position. Her Preposition in on. Give me an example of another Prep Position.”

And she waited.

“Under?” offered Ryan shyly.

“Sheree, please assume the Prep Position under the desk.” Ms. Mega wrote UNDER next to ON as Sheree climbed down and balled herself under the desk. “What is another Prep Position?”

A room full of 12-year-olds quickly picked up steam, “Around!” “Through!” “Inside!” and Ms. Mega wrote all the prepositions on the board as Sheree tried to wrap herself around the desk or climb through its bars.

And to this day, I remember what a Preposition is, all because Ms. Mega had an interesting lesson about it. That was… 15 years ago. Ugh, that sounds like a long time.

~Matt (and Bethany) Vaudrey

UPDATE 12:53 PM We had this conversation today regarding this post.

Bethany Text Ms. Mega