Tucson News Now is honoring nine exceptional high school teachers in the Tucson community.
Over at Ironwood Ridge High School, Nicole Blanchard knows all too well that math can make students cringe.
That’s why she is working hard to make math come alive in her classroom.
This week, teens in Mrs. Blanchard’s geometry class are trying to figure how in the world to make a triangle with all their desks.
"If the kids create it themselves, they're more inclined to remember it,” Blanchard said.
By bringing a bit of art and the real world into the classroom, teens are engaged.
"She's really fun, she's very creative when it comes to math but when it's time to get serious, she really pushes us hard," said Tatyana Banks, a junior.
Banks isn’t the best at geometry, but thanks to Blanchard, she said she's getting it.
“My kids don't always come in saying 'math is my favorite subject,' but they will like the class from the projects they did,” Blanchard said.
Other students say she's understanding.
"She's very understanding when you can’t turn in your homework right away, and she'll work with you 100 percent," said Senior Thomas Coyne.
Blanchard works one-on-one with each student to make sure they understand each problem, encouraging them to keep going.
"She knows how to get us there without yelling at us and breaking us down to our knees,” Banks said.
"The second I met her I trusted her right away because of the way she talked, and the way she tried to help whenever I needed it,” Coyne said.
Beyond math class, Blanchard is also part of a veterans heritage program.
Students get to interview veterans, then their interviews go in a book that is archived at the Library of Congress.
For Blanchard, teaching is all about making a difference.
"None of us do this for any other reason than we're passing along as much good in the world as we possibly can," she said.