Sky Yi didn’t expect to get a response when he wrote a letter to Microsoft President Brad Smith last spring. Sky penned it as part of an assignment from math teacher Ken Jordan, who asked his students at Silverland Middle School in Fernley, Nevada, to write letters to the businesses that they like.
“I know this letter won’t be opened by you on the spot, as I’m sure you guys get millions of letters,” Sky wrote. “I bet whoever is getting this letter, whether it be your secretary or whatnot, is probably just throwing this away or something like that.” Still, he added, “Keep up the good work running that company.”
Sky’s letter was not only read, it resulted in Smith visiting the Nevada school to meet Sky in person as part of the company’s effort to draw attention to the importance of math and encourage students and teachers who are passionate about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.
Sky is “one of my smartest kids,” says teacher Jordan, and Smith gave Sky props for his math smarts. He also gave him something else. Watch the video to learn more.
“At Microsoft, we’ve been working with middle schools for a long time, especially on subjects like middle-school math,” Smith said at the end of his visit. “Because what we’ve learned, what the country knows, is that middle-school math is a game changer. If kids make it through seventh- and eighth-grade math, and they succeed, they’re almost certain to keep succeeding, they’re almost certain to graduate from high school. And one of the things that makes this story exciting, is that this is a middle school that clearly has some great math teachers doing really creative work, drawing kids in, helping them not just learn to count and focus on things like algebra, but showing how math has a real-world impact, and as schools are finding out across the country, that makes all the difference.”