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Scholar Athlete: Crystal Beckwith shares one last class with favorite teacher

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Cathedral High School senior Crystal Beckwith, 17, is a math whiz with the help of her calculus teacher Ken Beesley Sr. The Lady Waves forward will be attending Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans with plans to study pharmacy.

NATCHEZ — Since she enjoyed his class so much the first time, Cathedral High School forward Crystal Beckwith decided to sign up for two more.

Now a senior, Beckwith has the honor of being in former Cathedral football and baseball coach Ken Beesley’s final calculus class before Beesley retires at the end of the school year.

Beckwith, who currently has a 3.926 grade-point average and scored a 24 on the ACT, took geometry under Beesley in ninth grade. She’s also taken his trigonometry class and is currently in his calculus class, which consists of just her and three other girls.

“You don’t memorize, you learn,” Beckwith said, reciting Beesley’s learning philosophy. “That’s what he always preaches, so when another problem comes up down the road, you know what you’re doing.”

Beesley said he’s enjoyed having Beckwith for several classes and called her a self-motivator.

“She’s conscientious about her studies, and she wants to learn,” Beesley said. “I hope she’s enjoyed having me as a teacher as much as I’ve enjoyed having her as a student. I know she’ll be successful in the future.”

Consistency is the main thing that stands out to Beesley when it comes to Beckwith’s character and study habits, he said.

“With her, you have no discipline problems at all,” Beesley said. “You don’t have to get onto her to make her listen, because she’s going to pay attention.”

Beckwith said it helps that there are only three other students in the class, since it gives Beesley a chance to be more hands on if any of them have questions.

“He’s able to come around to each one of us and tell us what the problem is,” Beckwith said. “If there’s an error on the calculator, he can tell us if we have it on the wrong mode.”

She also said the three other girls — Kimble Devening, Zoe Flattmann and Pepper Taylor — enjoy solving problems together.

“When you have a difficult problem, you can discuss it with each other,” Beckwith said. “It’s a group learning effort.”

Working together with others is something that comes easy for Beckwith, Beesley said.

“She has a pleasant personality,” he said. “She gets along with her peers as well as she does with her teachers. She’s easy to talk to and is a very likable person.”

Beesley’s ability to make things easy to understand is what sets him apart as a teacher, Beckwith said.

“He always finds ways to relate things back to where it’s understandable,” Beckwith said. “He cares about the class, and if you ask him to come to one of our games, he’ll come.”

At first, attending high school athletic events was tough for Beesley after he retired from coaching, he said. But after several years, Beesley said he learned to enjoy being a spectator. Now that he has students playing, there’s a little added enjoyment.

“It’s like anything else, if you have a daughter or son or someone close to you playing, it means a little more,” Beesley said. “I’ve taught so many students at Cathedral over the years that I just enjoy watching all of them.”

Studying comes easy for Beckwith, she said, since most of her academic prowess comes from simply paying attention in class.

“Over 50 percent of it is memory for me,” Beckwith said. “I don’t have to study that hard when it comes time for the test.”

For Beckwith, the best thing about being a basketball player has been the family atmosphere of the team. While the Lady Green Wave have had some ups and downs during her high school career, Beckwith said she’ll always appreciate playing with her teammates.

“Win or lose, we always tell each other what we need to get better at,” Beckwith said. “It’s been a ride, but it’s made me a better person.”

Beckwith is the daughter of Michelle Bethea and Larry Beckwith.