Hunter travels from Jamaica to pursue a mathematics career

The turquoise, Jamaican water sparkles as sunlight bounces off of the waves. Princess parrot-fish and mackerels swarm in schools as they dart through the waves. Farther from the coast, raindrops fall over trees in the rainforest. Jamaican boas slither along the forest floor while iguanas sleep in the canopies above.

Miles away, people buzz about the town of Portmore, as giant cruise ships make port to bring international tourists to the country. Movie theaters, restaurants and hotels fill with people as the sun sets on the water.

Night passes, and as the sun peeks over the horizon, the water turns to vast fields of green; the lush rainforest turns to clusters of oak trees along the side of the road; Jamaica turns to Augusta, GA.

Talyssa Hunter, AP Calculus teacher, came to America from Jamaica in hopes of pursuing a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) major.

“I went into college with the intention of doing something in physics, but after the first semester, I changed to math,” Hunter said. “Calculus is something that is near and dear to my heart.”

Hunter was born in Jamaica. Throughout school, she always loved math and science, and as primary school faded to high school, the idea of college became more and more prevalent.

With a similar education system as America and parents who pursued careers in business, Hunter had opportunities in Jamaica to have a successful occupation; however, after graduating high school, she could not let the chance to travel for college pass her by.

“I came to America because I got a full scholarship to Augusta University which was called Georgia Regents at the time,” Hunter said. “I received the ambassador scholarship which was given to 50 people a year. Each person represented their country, and I represented Jamaica.”

Once enrolled in college, Hunter soon learned that her passions were leading her away from physics and in the direction of calculus. She soon started helping her peers in the tutoring center which sparked an interest in teaching.

“I think that it’s really cool that Mrs. Hunter started basically teaching when she was in college,” AP calculus student Olivia Hunter said. “It’s like having a job before you have a job, kinda like a trial run before you commit to teaching.”

After graduating from Augusta University with a major in math and a minor in women’s studies and receiving a graduate degree in teaching, Hunter was thrown into the job hunt. Hunter claims that her only “source of finding a job was just going to a job fair.”

“If I didn’t get a job, I wasn’t opposed to going back home,” Mrs. Hunter said. “There would be other avenues for me there. I would have gone into the business industry.”


However, Hunter came to learn that she didn’t need connections to find a job in America. Four years ago, she was hired as a geometry teacher at Grady High School, but Hunter knew she was capable of more.

Two summers ago, she took a semester long AP calculus course at Woodward Academy. The following school year, she began teaching AP calculus at Grady. Hunter started working with fellow calculus teacher Andrew Nichols.

“The aspect of our professional relationship has changed over time,” Nichols said. “When she started she was looking for guidance like any new teacher, and now, a year and a half later, she can stand on her own.”

Hunter now helps Nichols with lesson plans and what problems to help students with. Though she greatly enjoys working with Nichols and teaching calculus, she acknowledges the difficulties students face with the subject.

“Calculus is probably the hardest class I have ever taken,” Hunter said. “It’s all about application math, which is something that only calculus students or someone who has taken calculus can really understand.”

It upsets Mrs. Hunter that when students “meet challenges, they give up”. However, she feels that if she can continue teaching and help enlighten her students, that the subject may not seem quite as scary. She intends to teach calculus at Grady as long as she can.

“I think she can [teach] as long as she wants to,” Nichols said. “It’s been a pleasure working with her, and I look forward to continuing to work with her professionally.”

Talyssa Hunter helps AP Calculus student Alex Tischer answer last minute questions before a quiz in her room on Dec. 18, 2017. Hunter gladly cleared up some confusion before the quiz began.