The Math Teacher that Defined My Career


Brandon Goeke’s official title at the Florida Prepaid College Board is Director of Planning and Development. But he’s also the team member everyone turns to when there is a special project or research endeavor that involves analyzing and crunching numbers.  Actuarial study needed? Call Brandon.

He says you can thank his 7th grade algebra teacher, Rima Kelley of Deerlake Middle School in Tallahassee, for that.

Here is why, in his words:

“I was a B algebra student in the 7th grade. I could have moved on to the next course, but Ms. Kelley called me and my parents in and recommended that I take algebra a second time to solidify the foundation for my future math work.

She believed it was important for me to fully understand the topic and fill in the gaps that she observed. My grades were sufficient to move forward, and she could have easily let me, but she took the initiative and personal interest to help me grow.

It must have been a difficult call to make – to tell my parents that I should not advance to the next course; that I should retake a course that I passed. But she did it because she cared, because she wanted me to be successful not only in her class, but well beyond that.

I am grateful for her influence. Each day I rely heavily on the fundamental concepts that she enforced.”

Brandon went on to get a bachelor’s degree in management and human resource management and an MBA – both from Florida State University. Today, all these years later, math is his daily world. Ms. Kelley is still teaching at Deerlake – and Brandon is hoping that his son, now 5, can one day benefit from the attention and care of this teacher who takes the extra step for her students.