Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

The Great, Math-ological Griffin

Posted 05/15/2024 by Ravi Apte

Ms. Griffin loves her students and grants support to them when they are struggling. photo by Ravi Apte

TJ’s math teacher is looking to make a big splash in her new community.

Abigail Griffin began her teaching career here at Thomas Jefferson High School two years ago, and has since become a beloved member of the TJ community.

Originally from New Hartford, New York, Griffin first came to Colorado to pursue her master’s degree in Educational Mathematics at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley (UNC), following her graduation from State University of New York Geneseo. Although she was eager to begin teaching, her graduation happened to occur in tandem with the COVID-19 pandemic, so rather than  start her teaching career over Zoom, Griffin decided to instead continue her education at UNC.

During her time at UNC, she helped professors teach undergraduate math courses such as college algebra and non-euclidean geometry. When it came time to choose between pursuing a PhD and teaching at the college level or applying for jobs as a high school math teacher, her decision was easy. “I had always felt my passions were for teaching high school-aged students.” Griffin had known she wanted to pursue a career in high school education ever since she was a high school student herself. 

In her search for a high school teaching position, Griffin applied to many schools across the Denver Public School District (DPS), but when she came in for her interview in May 2022 at TJ, it was love at first sight. “I remember first stepping into TJ and everyone was so friendly.” Griffin was impressed at how teachers, staff, and students always seemed to walk around with a smile, even during the stressful last push to summer. Griffin is open to the idea of someday returning to school and completing her PhD, however she loves TJ and her current position and has no intention of leaving anytime soon.

In her time as a high school student, Griffin thrived in all subjects except, ironically, the one she teaches now. “I wanted to go into the profession because I didn’t understand math in high school all the time.” Her initial struggle with the subject inspired her to become a math teacher herself. Griffin explained how her past experiences struggling to learn math helped her understand and navigate some of the same struggles her students might currently face. “I could not imagine teaching any other subject now.” 

Griffin teaches primarily Concurrent Enrollment (CE) Math for Liberal Arts and CE Statistics. In these classes, students learn both traditional math like algebra and probability, along with more nuanced subjects like personal finance. Students in Griffin’s Math for Liberal Arts classes learn about investing and managing money, and even the intricacies of buying important assets such as cars and houses. “We need classes like this where kids can apply math to real life,” Griffin explained how it is important to teach students math skills that everybody has to use but not everyone learns in highschool. This way, students understand these important lessons before they need to apply them to their lives. Farah Djama, a senior currently taking Griffin’s Math for Liberal Arts Class, gave insight into her experience: “Ms. Griffin has really helped me learn the skills I need to be successful both academically and financially.” Djama described how she is grateful that her teacher makes math meaningful and applicable to her life moving forward. 

Outside of the classroom, Griffin enjoys many hobbies, a few of which include arts and crafts, singing, going on long runs, and walking her dogs named Fox and Captain with her fiance. She mentioned that many of the math skills that she teaches her students she also uses in her everyday life outside of school.

Griffin’s clear and unadulterated passion for high school math education is apparent in her teaching style and philosophy. Although her time at TJ is just beginning, the impact she has  had on her students and the school as a whole is invaluable. Luckily for the community, Griffin loves her students, her job, and her new home in Denver. It is safe to say she has found her home here. “I came out here, did my graduate degree, met my fiance, and now I’m living my best life.”