Struggling with math homework might not technically be an emergency, but, when you’re 10, it can certainly feel like it. Recently, an Ohio fifth grader contacted the police for homework help — and, delightfully, the police responded, coaching her through the basic order of operations rules. I’m pretty sure that tutoring fifth-grade math sits firmly in the “above and beyond” category.
Lena Draper, 10, was having trouble with her math homework, which included problems combining addition and multiplication in single equations, so she did the logical thing and sent a message to the Marion Police Department via its Facebook page. “I’m having trouble with my homework,” she wrote. “Could you help me?” Eventually, she got a reply: “OK, with what?”
Draper explained her problem: “Well I don’t understand (8+29) x 15.” Marion Police Dept. Lt. B.J. Gruber, who runs the department’s Facebook page, then offered his advice, writing, “Do the numbers in the parenthesis first so in essence it would be 37 x 15.”
Draper asked for help on a second problem [(90 + 27) + (29 + 15) x 2]. Unfortunately, the officer’s advice on this one got the order of operations incorrect (which, fair. The last time I had to remember PEMDAS — Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication & Division, Addition and Subtraction — was approximately 1,000 years ago, and I’d bet a lot of adults would stay the same). Regardless of Officer Gruber’s 5th-grade math proficiency, it’s heartwarming that he took time out of his day to try and help a young member of his community.
The Marion police certainly don’t seem to mind that Draper reached out to them for help; in fact, they see it as proof that their community outreach is working. The department responded to the incident on Facebook, writing,
We really wondered what first made this child think to call upon us for help with homework. We don't mind and it's not unheard of but still pretty rare. I believe the answer is simple ... she was made to believe that we are good people who are worthy of her trust and who will be there for her in a pinch. That kind of thing does not happen by accident. Hard work goes into that, along with a sincere compassion and love for our people.
In an interview with Inside Edition (above), Draper joked that next time, if the police department can’t help her with her homework, she’ll contact the Ghostbusters instead. I like the way this kid thinks.