When I was growing up, my family always encouraged me to be creative. They sent me to art camps and after school programs. I always had all the creative supplies I needed. But they also told me that I couldn't make a living as an artist. I was encouraged to get a job and be creative in my “free” time.
A Double Life
In my twenties, I followed their advice - I got a job as a math tutor at the Santa Fe Community College. I always loved math and it seemed like a good fit. The job eventually grew into at teaching position. During that time, I also pursued a Bachelor's degree and then a Master's degree in art. I was living what I considered to be a double life, and longed for a way to integrate my two interests.
After graduating with my MFA from Goddard College, I was faced with hefty student loans. I needed to work long hours as a math teacher to make ends meet. I was too busy to create art and fell into a deep depression. Life felt empty without creative expression.
Loss of Meaning
I was also frustrated because I agreed with my students who would ask, “Why do I need to learn math? I'm never going to use it.” I believed their point of view. But I loved math! I did not love the way I was asked to teach it - devoid of meaning and context.
That's when I started to experiment with hands-on projects in the classroom. I used cooking to teach fractions, painting to teach percentages, and budgeting to teach algebra. Eureka! Student engagement and attendance went up and teaching became more fun. But student test scores weren't improving. When I asked what was happening, students said that they understood everything in class but had a hard time remembering all of the details when they went home. They also couldn't understand the textbook or their notes.
Finding My Passion
So I started creating booklets to accompany the textbook. I would put my art in them, integrate the projects and real-life examples, and also provide clear explanations of each topic. The booklets were a huge hit! To this day, I run into students who tell me they still have my booklets and refer to them in their higher-level math classes. Bonus! I absolutely loved making the booklets because they brought together all of my interests in one place. I set a goal to write and design a textbook.
My First Book
Soon after, I created a business math book for a class at the community college. I teamed up with another math teacher and within 6 months we wrote a 400-page textbook. During that time, I not only researched business math, I also learned about graphic design, publishing, and curriculum development. I worked harder than I had ever worked before, and loved every minute of it.
Unfortunately, the first edition of the book didn't work out. There were technical issues, time constraints and limited editing. The school decided to stop using the book and I faced a tough decision. I could accept the failure and give up, or I could keep going.
Despite feeling deeply ashamed and embarrassed at my first attempt, I loved the process of designing curriculum. I was also willing to do whatever it took to build a career around it. Leaving my teaching position behind, I opened a publishing company and embraced entrepreneurship.
By learning from my mistakes, I revised the business math book. The new version, Life Savings: Navigate the Financial Course, went on to win the best family and parenting book in the 2016 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards. I then wrote 3 more books.
Now I've built a business around my books, teaching workshops and coaching individuals. My goal is to teach practical business and financial skills to creatives so they can support themselves while living a meaningful and productive life. And have fun in the process. Which I am.
To build a thriving creative economy by empowering creative individuals with the practical financial and business skills they need to lead meaningful, creative lives.
Pi Luna's Experience
Pi Luna has over 10 years experience as a math tutor/teacher with at the Santa Fe Community College where she taught algebra and business math. She also tutoring students in trigonometry and Calculus along with English, technology and science. She also worked for A+ Academic Coaching helping high school students prepare for the ACT and SAT tests.
Master's Degree in Fine Arts
Pi Luna has an MFA from Goddard College in Interdisciplinary Art. Her degree focused on the intersection of art, psychology and math.
Award Winning Author
Pi Luna's book "Life Savings: Navigating the Financial Course" was a winner in the 2016 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards.
Pi Luna has taught financial literacy and business classes with organizations throughout New Mexico including: