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Math teacher picks up from football player’s handoff

    If I told you that 1+1= 2, you'd agree. If I told you that 2+2= 4, you'd say right on. If I told you that 4+4= 8, you'd say OK, now make your point.

    Our simple addition here is 100 percent correct, but I'm not handing out any cookies. Why? Because I see another law at work. The one where 1+1 just may equal millions.

    That's the way Christopher Ryan Marve sees it. He's an educator, and educators – the ones who are really serious about their profession – must see it this way.

    A Vanderbilt University graduate (2011) and a product of Teach for America, Marve, who went to high school in Memphis at White Station, now teaches math to seventh graders at Lead Academy in Nashville. At Vandy, Marve played SEC football, which for many translates – or adds up – to a high-percentage shot at playing professionally. If not the NFL, definitely somewhere.

    "Well I decided to forgo my opportunity to play in the NFL to fight the new fight, said Marve. "Football was what I did, it's not who I am. I had successes in football through high school back at White Station and college where I played linebacker, but I lost my passion for it.

    "So since I'm not the kind of person to do anything half-heartedly, I renewed my focus in another area," said Marve. "I then decided to make my life one of service."

    Q & A

    Kelvin Cowans: Who influenced your life in this manner? I understand you're educated, but there's a hint of wisdom or experience and diversity in your conversation. There's a lot to you.

    Christopher Ryan Marve: ...(My) parents, who have meant the world to me, helping mold me into the man I am today, spiritually and otherwise...academics always came first with them. My parents settled for nothing less.

    Other than them, I have to go all the way back to Hickory Ridge Middle and my 8th grade math teacher, Mrs. Mildrek Clark. You could see the passion that she had for teaching. She was every bit of 4-foot -1 but she was the most intimidating person you will ever come across. She loved what she did and everybody respected her. When Mrs. Clark said do something you did it. She was and is one of the most inspiring teachers of mine. I'm even in contact with her today and I'm still scared. She inspired me to do this.

    Now I'm pushing my kids like she pushed me. I believe that I can pour into these kids lives and they will pour into someone and that person will pour into someone and it will keep going from there. If you can reach one, it could turn into millions."

    KC: How do you feel about the education in America? What are we not doing? Where should our focus be?

    CRM: America is not where it should be. Our public education system is beyond behind where we are supposed to be. We are not even in the top ten in the world. We need to understand education is coming to the forefront of everything we do, our very existence.

    We have dropped the ball collectively when it comes to education. It's not fair to point at one aspect of it. All kids can learn, rich and poor.

    (Kelvin Cowans can be reached at ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    (This is the first installment in a periodic column updating readers on the fortunes of former students from Memphis-area schools.)

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