Susan Erhardt, 55, died Monday. The body was cremated. Funeral 2 p.m. Friday. A.S. Turner & Sons.
Susan Erhardt, 55, Paideia math teacher By Derrick Henry
Even if they didn't like math, students wanted to get into Susan's classes at the Paideia School.
"She made students believe they could understand math," said Paideia high school Principal Paul Heyward of Atlanta. "And when they made mistakes, she was there to help them rather than to judge them."
Ms. Erhardt, who taught at the school 21 years, was skilled and generous at helping students who had math problems. "She tutored a lot of students outside the classroom," said Joseph Cullen of Decatur, a Paideia English teacher.
Dorothy Craft Evans of Atlanta said her son, Andrew Hayworth, struggled with eighth-grade geometry. "He went to Susan for tutoring, and she did a great job. She was masterful at knowing what an individual kid needed and analyzing where they were having difficulties." added Ms. Evans, Paideia's director of professional development.
Ms. Erhardt, 55, of Atlanta died Monday at DeKalb Medical Center of a brain hemorrhage. The body was cremated. The memorial service is 2 p.m. Friday at A.S. Turner & Sons.
Ms. Erhardt was teaching developmental math at Georgia State University when she was divorced with a 3-year-old so. She took her son to Paideia to investigate the preschool program. While there, she was asked what she did for a living.
"They told her they had an opening for a high school math teacher," said her partner, Vernita Pinto.
Ms. Erhardt not only got the job, she found her life's work.
Her son, Martin Aguilera, A Georgia Tech graduate student, was educated at Paideia and took Algebra II with his mother.
"Her work as a teacher made her a better parent, and her work as a parent made her a better teacher,' he said. "She learned how teenagers act and behave, and used that knowledge to raise me in an understanding environment. She let me make the decisions I needed to make, but gave me the information to make the right decision."
Ms. Erhardt treated her students the same way. For 10 years, she worked with Mr. Cullen to direct the peer leadership program, through which Paideia seniors worked with freshmen to make their transition to high school easier.
"Susan was a terrific leader who had a way of inspiring people to things without making them do it," said Mr. Cullen. "She believed in talking things out and working through issues. She was always encouraging, but she was also honest. She never used false praise or told students she believed they could do something she knew they couldn't do."
A cancer survivor who made intricate quilts in her spare time, Ms. Erhardt had what Mr. Cullen called "a great sense of the ridiculous."
"Every Halloween she would dress up in the most terrible-looking clown outfit and teach her classes in it," said Mr. Cullen. "The students looked forward to it. Susan had absolutely no self-consciousness about looking silly."
There are no other immediate survivors.
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, GA) Thursday 05 Dec 2002, p.F6
- Ibid, p.F6