Steve Shay
Kathy Myers' daughter, Helen, a second grader at Schmitz Park School, models a temporary math tattoo, "Apple Pi" which is one of Myers' educational tattoos geared for middle and high school students. Myers, a 6th grade math teacher at Madison Middle School, and North Admiral District resident, started her own business, Academic Tattoos.

Madison math teacher, entrepreneur, teaches through temporary tattoos

Madison Middle School 6th grade math teacher, and entrepreneur, Kathy Myers, wants students across America to have a piece of the “pi.” The North Admiral District mother of two began a part time “temporary tattoo” business, Academic Tattoos, with math equations and slogans for students to affix to their hands, arms, cheeks, and even foreheads to remind them of equations and to increase their interest in math. Some stickers contain pi puns such as the "Vam-pi-re" design, the pumpkin with pi symbol over it. Get it? “Pumpkin pi?” And for the brainy high school senior, how about the quadratic formula on your shoulder, or the golden ratio, a design that evokes architect Frank Lloyd Wright-meets-seashell.

While the tattoos vary in size and price, and while Myers expands her line to science, English, and history, she said the common denominator is getting kids involved in enjoying learning, and pointed out that when the student is home a teachable moment surfaces when the parents ask their kid about the tattoo and its content.

“I thought this would energize my students, get them interested in math,” said Myers, who begins her thirteenth year at Madison where she first taught language arts. "Most of my business is out-of-state, and my tattoos seem popular in small towns where parents and teachers have less access to this kind of thing.

“I got the idea because I could not find what I wanted,” she added. “Nobody had thought to take temporary tattoos geared toward the classroom. Most tattoos on the market said things like “Don’t take drugs” and “Safety first” which are school-related but don’t get kids interested in learning. In the old days kids used to write on their arm for cheating, and in a way this is sanctioned learning instead.

“My big issue was we have nothing fun for kids in middle school and high school. Most of the fun stuff, the stickers, pencils and so forth, are for young grade school kids. This doesn’t get kids as excited in middle and high school.

“About 10 years ago I heard about Pi Day celebrated in San Francisco. It is celebrated typically on March 14, 1:59 p.m.”

Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, so a round, foot-wide coffee table is 3.1459 feet around. The actual number is an infinite amount of digits. On Pi Day, students try to recite as many numbers of pi as they can remember. Myers’ students are involved in Madison School’s Pi Day. She also sells large arm band tattoos with pi digits which she said are extremely popular.

“Some kids who are not normally successful in math class have a very good memory and are remarkably successful at this and it parlays into other things. I had a kid in special ed who blew away the other kids.”

Myers recalls won Madison student memorizing 90 numbers of pi, and said there is a two-student rivalry in the area who have each memorized over 260 digits.

Myers draws a line between her teaching career and her tattoo business, and while she feels uniquely qualified to design and market her product, she said she is very clear to do this on her own time, without her school’s involvement.

“Some students ask me if they can design a tattoo for me and I say ‘yes, but not on school time.’ When I travel to promote my tattoos I take personal time off of work, and of course pay all my own expenses.”

Myers' husband, Seattle architect, Paul Schlachter, helps design the tattoos, and their kids, Helen, a second grader at Schmitz Elementary School, and her sister, fourth grader Mary help bag the tattoos. However, Helen and Mary's parents have no permanent tattoos on their bodies.

Said Myers, “We grew up in households where you’d never think you’d get a tattoo.”

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