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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

New Precalculus teacher puts in extra time to help students

Aiden Ye
Rajamani guides student through addition of rational equations.

On a Blue Day tutorial, new Precalculus teacher Matangi Rajamani runs through practice problems on the whiteboard, reviewing methods of simplifying exponential equations to the attentive students in her classroom. As she bounces between concepts like dividing the numerator and denominator and squaring the expression, she subtly guides students into understanding the varied methods of approaching the same question. 

Despite being hired this year to teach only one 7th period class, Rajamani is dedicated to giving her students all the help they need, coming in for tutorials each day to provide assistance.

“Though I’m not paid to be here other than for the one period, it didn’t seem fair that my students wouldn’t have access to their teachers during Blue Day tutorials,” Rajamani said.

Although her passion nowadays is for teaching, Rajamani started her career as a programmer. She did her undergraduate studies in computer science at the University of Toledo and her master’s degree at UT Knoxville in operations research, a major which applies math to business models.

She later used her skills to work for 10 years in industry. Afterward, she took a break to spend more time with her children. When her third son graduated, she returned to the workforce and decided to change careers. She received her teaching credential at San Jose State University.

“My parents are math professors, and my mother once told me that teaching is the best profession because you get to lift others above you,” Rajamani said. “She is right.”

She first began teaching Algebra and Geometry at Kennedy Middle School in Cupertino for six years, the school her children attended. Prior to teaching there, she had already been part of the Parent Teacher Organization board, allowing her to bond with the community more easily.

“Two years ago, I decided to take a leap of faith and see what teaching at a high school would be like, since I really admired the math teachers my children had at Monta Vista High,” Rajamani said.

She taught Precalculus and Geometry at Homestead High School for the previous two years. However, during the eight years she had been teaching, Rajamani said she overworked herself. 

“I barely slept, because there was always new curriculum to create, and I ended up putting in about 16 hours a day,” Rajamani said. 

As a result, she has sought part-time teaching work, which allows her to still pursue her passions, while also having time to rest and recover. The smaller workload meant she could spend more time with her children, reconnect with past students through hikes or walks and finally get eight hours of sleep a day.

Although adapting to yet another school has been difficult, Rajamani noted that Algebra 2 Honors and Precalculus teacher Kelly Frangieh had been helping her with the transition immensely, sharing material and providing support.

“Every teacher in the math department has been incredibly welcoming, and have all let me know that they’ll help me and support me,” Rajamani said.

In particular, she hopes to build long-lasting bonds with all the students in her class. To this day, many of her students from Kennedy, who are now well into college, still come and visit her, a sentiment she hopes to develop from students here.

In the future, though, Rajamani said she hopes to teach more than just one period.

“There’s just a special joy in teaching to be able to step back and watch my students slowly connect the dots, watching them as they suddenly go, ‘Oh, I understand!’” she said.

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