As the end of the school year approaches, Marco Island Academy has a lot of change to face. We say goodbye to the Class of 2019, enter the first phase of our new building process, and dive head first into summer. This year, however, we also say goodbye to the queen of room 302, Mrs. Dorothy Chapman.
Mrs. Chapman began teaching in 1983 in Brownsville, Tennessee, and has remained in the math field ever since. Although she never thought that she would become a teacher throughout high school, she came out of Lambuth University with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and received her masters degree at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
When she moved to Naples in 1999 to teach at Barron Collier High School, she had no clue what a saving grace she would become when she began teaching at Marco Island Academy in 2015. Having a small and undeveloped math program in its first few years of its conception, MIA’s math program increased heavily under her supervision. Algebra 1, Pre-Calculus, Statistics, AICE Math, and Calculus are some of the most memorable classes that Mrs. Chapman has taught in her time at MIA. In AICE Math, her favorite class to teach, she has tripled the passing score within her three years of teaching the class, surpassing the national average.
But when it comes to an entire career in teaching, she has seen a lot more than just test scores change in her 36 years as an educator. When asked to reflect upon her experience, she stated, “When I first started it was mostly still lecturing; kids would listen, take notes, and had their test. Today I have so much more available to me that is more interesting to the kids.” Indeed, Mrs. Chapman is the very epitome of old school vs. new school, having institutionalized a wide range of math scavenger hunts, Khan Academy videos, background lectures, and yes, even good old fashioned tests throughout each school year. “Some things have stayed the same,” she stated, “but I believe change is always a good thing.”
Her upbeat attitude and genuine demeanor has made her a favorite among students, especially the senior class who will have entered and exited Marco Island Academy with her at the same time come this May. She has coined many nicknames, and around the school you will hear her getting called anything from “Queen Chappy” to an “absolute angel.” At MIA’s last pep rally in April, she was even given a proper send-off by being escorted arm-in-arm by seniors Axel Reyes and Tristan Arroyave across the pavilion, and was crowned with a tiara by senior Nicole Brunson.
As for her plans after retirement, Mrs. Chapman mentioned traveling more with her husband and visiting her family outside of Florida. She claimed she was excited for this next chapter in life, but there will always be a part of her that will miss teaching. “My favorite part,” she stated, “was watching my students succeed.”