Enna Vela teaches bridge math to seniors at Mt. Juliet High School, where she has been since 2011. Bridge math helps students whose ACT scores didn’t meet state standards and helps prepare them for college.
Vela has also taught Algebra 2 at MJHS but has taught most math courses throughout her career. She was an educator in Texas for 19 years before her family moved to Tennessee.
Vela received a math degree from the University of Texas-Pan American. She didn’t expect she would go into teaching, but she said Texas was in dire need of math and science teachers so they were hiring college seniors. She told her parents she would do that for a few years but has been in education ever since.
“I think once I was actually in that classroom teaching, I think the reward of seeing those students succeed and feel good about themselves was probably what sealed the deal,” she said. “I found that I really enjoyed it.”
Many students don’t enjoy math because it can be difficult, which Vela understands as she also found it challenging when in school.
“Math was actually the one subject that I had to really work hard at, it kept me on my toes,” she said.
She likes helping her students work through the challenges until they can finally have their “light bulb moments” when everything clicks.
“It’s a really good feeling knowing you can help that happen,” she said.
Vela was moved to be named MJHS Teacher of the Year and said it was a very big surprise, but it was nice to know her peers appreciate what she does for her students.
“Knowing that you are thought of highly by your peers is always a nice recognition,” she said.