ZEPHYR — If there’s such a thing as someone being born to teach, that would be Patricia Boland.
A 34-year teaching veteran, Boland has been in the Zephyr district for four years, where she teaches high school chemistry, physics and biology classes and seventh-grade science.
“I sort of was born into (teaching),” Boland said. “I think I’ve always been teaching. My nieces and nephews, when we visit, the first thing they’ll say sometimes is, ‘Aunt Tricia, we don’t want to learn anything today.’
“It’s just ingrained that whatever I learn, I like to share it.”
Baby-sitting in high school, Boland said, “I would do school with the kids.”
Before teaching in Zephyr, Boland taught math at Brownwood High School for 30 years before retiring — the first time. After working as the director of the Christian Women’s Job Corps, Boland came out of retirement to teach at Zephyr.
“The difference between a school the size of Brownwood, compared to a school the size of Zephyr — it is different,” Boland said. “But one is not better than the other. That’s what some people ask me. Is it easier? Kids are kids. The kids here are together. They’re more family. And the pace is a bit slower, and it’s been just a thrill to have the same students for four years.”
Boland and her husband, Charles, who teaches business at Howard Payne University, are the parents of a daughter and a son.
Boland was born at Camp Lejune, N.C., where her father was a Marine officer. The family lived at multiple Marine camps before returning to Camp Lejune, where Boland graduated from high school.
Boland attended the University of Mississippi, where she was the only girl in her physics and chemistry classes. “Oh, I struggled through physics,” Boland said. “All the boys had taken radios apart and they had a lot of experience with the physical world, with cars and motors and bicycles, that I didn’t have.
“But I had the math, and sometimes I could trade … ‘OK guys, I know how to do the math and the formulas, you get me through this other piece.’”
Boland graduated with a chemistry degree, and after teaching for a year in Missouri, she began teaching in the Brownwood school district.
After retiring from teaching in Brownwood, she took a three-month job in Zephyr, substituting for a math teacher. Then-Zephyr principal Stanton Marwitz, who is now the district’s superintendent, asked Boland if she wanted a permanent job teaching math.
Boland turned down the job because if she was going to teach, she wanted an opportunity to teach science. “Three years later, he called and asked me to come teach science, so here I am,” Boland said.
“I wanted to teach science just because I never had, but also I just like to teach things. I like to teach things that are new and exciting to kids, and so science is a way I can use my math with the science, and get the excitement of teaching all over again.”
Math and science involve a similar thought process and use the same side of the brain, Boland said. The science adds applications, she said.
“Some kids, they don’t understand math until they know how they’re going to use it,” Boland said. “Then when they’re in science, now they’re using that math. Now their math grades go up because it works together, and they see that application.”
When a student is struggling, Boland said, “that is just the impetus to say OK, what can I do to turn that situation around? How can I change the style or order of things? Can we sit down one on one and get this, or can I pair them with another student that’s getting it?”
Success is contagious, Boland said — but a student doesn’t have to make an A or even a B to be successful. “Even if a student didn’t learn the maximum, they learned something,” Boland said. “We don’t all learn at the same pace. We just don’t all click at the same time.
“You still went from Point A to Point B, it just didn’t register as far. When things are hard, you learn how you learn. And then sometimes you learn, that’s not your thing.”
Boland said this is her final year of teaching. She’ll be going out with an adventure: Boland is the senior class sponsor, and she will be accompanying the students on their senior trip to California.