Mathematician painting inspires local students during Black History Month

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - An Instagram post made by a Bryan High School theater teacher is catching the eye of some notable names in Hollywood. What started as a challenge among teachers turned into a much bigger message for Black History Month.

Inside Ms. Robert’s theater class, students learn about the arts. Outside, her classroom door is catching eyes.

"I had no idea it would blow up this big," said Bryan High School freshman Madison Bailey.

The school's Key Club hosted a door-painting competition for February, and Bailey Robert made hers one to remember.

"It meshed history and film and theater together for them in a brand new way," Robert said.

Katherine Johnson, an African-American mathematician who worked for NASA in the 1950s, is on the door of room 4150.

"As a theater teacher, art and film is also something we talk about in our curriculum and our story," Robert said.

A picture of the class door has received over 13,000 on Instagram, including a share from academy-award winner Octavia Spencer, who co-starred in the movie 'Hidden Figures'. It depicted Katherine Johnson's life and success through NASA.

"I’m really shocked and really proud that something so small in our community has touched hearts in our community," said Bryan High freshman Andrea Zgabay.

Although what goes on inside Ms. Robert's class is far from math or science, students say they're inspired by Johnson and her will to thrive in the face of adversity.

"It's a hard career to make theater out of, and it's nice to know that if this woman could accomplish what was deemed impossible in this time period, it's possible for any of us to achieve something almost as great," said Bryan High senior, Ashley Lopez.

Ms. Robert says she also received some messages on social media from Katherine Johnson’s grandchildren thanking her for sharing their grandmother's story.