Ms. Zuniga: Yes, You Can Do Math


Maria Odio

Mrs. Zuniga provides resources for people in every level of mathematics; students and teachers alike.

When someone thinks about math, they most likely envision textbooks filled with lessons and practice questions. However, mathematics teacher and yearbook advisor Ms. Zuniga has worked to shatter this presumption by writing her own books on the subject, teaching students and teachers how to overcome the anxiety-inducing tendencies that math is often accompanied with. 

Having taught the subject for over 20 years, Ms. Zuniga has garnered enough experience to identify the issues and fears facing Cavaliers across all levels of math. Most recently, she concluded that the best way to address the problem is to provide support for those in need of assistance.

“I think she does a good job of providing resources for students, even within class she is really good with giving us many sources and additional help by making herself available. It helped me feel more confident about what I needed to be doing,” junior Natalie Muñiz said.

Math anxiety is a problem that affects an overwhelming number of students who find themselves doubting their mathematical skills and losing hope of ever understanding the subject. In Ms. Zuniga’s latest project, two books on the very subject of math anxiety, she strives to detail her experiences and anecdotes as a mathematics teacher while providing additional resources to those in need of a helping hand. In one instance, she recounts a story of a student who described math as the “Anti-Christ” and the approach she took to change his mind. 

“The kids that I have with severe math anxiety genuinely don’t feel that they can do math. The focus of the book is how you can help someone who just doesn’t believe in their abilities,” Ms. Zuniga said.

Her books will cater to those who struggle in the math world, whether it be via learning or teaching. She outlines various suggestions educators can use to take the frustrations of their students and turn it into a positive outlook. By next summer, Ms. Zuniga hopes to have the books available online for free temporarily before charging. 

“Regardless of how someone came into teaching, if they do not believe that every single child in that classroom can learn, then their students will sense it and they will give up. You can’t give up on them,” Ms. Zuniga said.

Ms. Zuniga has also built a YouTube channel where she uploads videos daily, breaking down mathematical concepts with detailed explanations and examples. These separate videos seek to fill any gaps of knowledge that students might have while simultaneously improving their confidence in their arithmetical minds. She also stays after school to help Cavaliers who require hands-on or in-person assistance in order to hone their comprehension of the subject.

“Her Youtube channel helps me a lot because sometimes there are questions that I can ask my friends, but only Ms. Zuniga can answer them. There are some things that just make more sense when Ms. Zuniga explains it,” senior Helena Macedo said.

Aiming to make learning a fun and enjoyable experience, Ms. Zuniga teaches the content and explains the real-world relevance of various topics within her curriculum. One example would be connecting systems of equations to the break-even point of a business or investigating exponential functions with investments. She also devises strategies such as mnemonics and physical activities to assist in more complicated problems that can be found in the college-level math courses she teaches. 

You don’t need to like math, you just need to be able to do math,

— Ms. Zuniga

Additionally, through her monthly updated blog, Ms. Zuniga guides her colleagues by giving tips on icebreakers, high school teaching essentials, reflections and more, a resource meant to work in tandem with her book.

Ms. Zuniga’s standard is going above and beyond. She works to ensure that every student has the opportunity to shine, and most importantly, to learn. Students need someone they can trust with their education, and when it comes to math, she is always there to help. Whether it be through disco dancing to remember the steps to solve a problem or a simple song to understand the behavior of a function, Ms. Zuniga has made every student a little less intimidated by numbers.