Diana Gafford, chair of the developmental math department TSTC Harlingen, passed away last night. Visitation services will be held on Thursday, June 5, 2008, at the McCaleb Funeral Home, 900 W. 4th St., in Weslaco, Texas, from 4-8 p.m. Family will be present from 5:30-7 p.m. Graveside services will be held Friday, June 6, 2008, at the Donna City Cemetery at 10:30 a.m.
I first met Diana about three years ago on one of my periodic trips down to Harlingen looking to pick up book projects. At that point we were working with one of her colleagues on another math book and we were fortunate enough—once that project was done—to work with her and Dr. Mike Hosseinpour on The Quick Math Review.
Diana had a real passion for teaching and for helping her students succeed in their math classes. The Quick Math Review was a direct outgrowth of this as it was the companion text for “quick review” classes taught by the developmental faculty. The week before each semester began Diana would teach one-week intensive math review classes consisting of 30-35 hours of instruction. (She and Billie Becker, the chair of developmental English, created these classes from the ground up and had just tremendous results in not only helping students test out of 1-2 developmental classes in a given subject area but in seeing them graduate from school as well.) I always thought it was amazing (and admirable), especially given that TSTC runs three long semesters a year, that Diana was willing to take yet another three weeks to teach as opposed to taking a well-deserved break. . . and she did it because she was determined to see her students be successful.
Diana will be sorely missed, not only by us and her colleagues and students (present and past), but by the students that will never have the chance to be in her classroom.
Finally, it is my understanding that her family is establishing a scholarship in Diana’s memory whose funds will be used to pay for tuition and books for students taking one of the quick review courses. As more details are worked out I will post that information.