By Amelia Anthony
Photo by Hana Tyszka
Senior Staff Photographer
Math teacher Ruth Moonesinghe was recently awarded the Sarah D. Barder Fellowship through Johns Hopkins University. She is one of only ten teachers selected from across the states of California, Maryland, and Nevada. Seniors Kendrick Shen and Jaehyung Choi, her former students, nominated her for consideration by the university.
Every year, students who have attended a Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth program are invited to nominate a teacher for the Sarah D. Barder Fellowship. The teachers are then asked to apply for consideration to the fellows program.
“Mrs. Moonesinghe absolutely deserves this award because she challenges her students to master and explore the material, all the while maintaining a compassionate attitude,” Choi said.
Mrs. Moonesinghe began teaching at SPHS in 2003. She has taught almost all levels of math, but she currently teaches Math I+, Math Analysis Honors, and AP Calculus BC. She received the Hartsough Award last year, notably for her work with the Calculus for a Cause fundraiser. Started in 2008 to support Southern California fire relief, Calculus for a Cause takes place twice a year. Students purchase review packets for their math finals, and 100% of the proceeds go to a designated charity. This year, the money will benefit two causes in Sri Lanka: mental health awareness and treatment for children with bone cancer.
“Putting my kids together in class is fun, but what they do together to serve, is amazing,” wrote Mrs. Moonesinghe in her application essay. “They have learned that using your talent to make a difference in their world is what matters and that’s my real legacy.”
Mrs. Moonesinghe anticipates her upcoming trip to San Francisco this February for the all-expenses paid fellows conference, where she will meet with speakers on education and the other fellows. She hopes to spread the idea of Calculus for a Cause among them.