Choosing My Career
In fourth grade, I decided that I wanted to be a teacher. When I was a high school junior, I began thinking about what content to teach, and I considered English, chemistry, Latin, math and even band. One day right before my Honors English class, a friend asked me if I figured out the calculus problem that we spent a ton of time the night before trying to conquer together. I had figured it out, so my friend demanded that I explain the answer. I started to explain, but then, others also wanted help. So, before our teacher came in, I went to the board so everyone could see. One girl in the class, who really struggled in calculus, was listening intently to my explanation. Suddenly, her face lit up and she exclaimed, “Oh I get it now! This makes so much sense!” She looked like she was on top of the world. I remember thinking, “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.” There was no longer a doubt in my mind; I wanted to teach students math.
Proudest Professional Accomplishment
One of my proudest professional accomplishments was being selected to present a poster at the 2009 annual meeting of the Mathematical Association of America held in Portland, Oregon. My poster, entitled, “I Don’t Teach Math; I Teach Students Math,” featured key things I do on the first day of class that help set the stage for a successful semester. I had the privilege of accompanying Dr. Sherri Brugh, another math professor at Mount Union, as she took four students who were presenting their Senior Capstone Experience papers at the conference. It was a wonderful experience that I will never forget! In addition, creating the curriculum for MTH 395, The Teaching of Mathematics, is another accomplishment of which I am proud.
When I started coaching my son’s soccer team in 2009, I realized that I teach like I coach, and I coach like I teach. There are a few things inherent in my functioning as a coach. First, the students and I work together against the “opponent” (course material) that students are fighting to conquer, as opposed to having a student versus professor atmosphere. Second, I try to design “practices” (classes) such that students are engaged and active learners, as opposed to merely sitting on the sidelines. I like to use individual whiteboards for students that help me as I walk around the room and monitor students’ understanding. In my statistics courses, I use a card system by which I randomly call on students to encourage them to prepare for class beforehand and to stay on their toes during class. I firmly believe class participation is essential to student learning, and it also makes class more interesting! Finally, I really enjoy getting to know students—where they are from and what their interests are. I care about them as people, as well as their success in math, just as an excellent coach cares about his or her athletes’ development as people, not just their performances on the field, court, track and in the pool.
A New Course
During the summer of 2004, I put my heart and soul into developing the curriculum that I use for MTH 395, The Teaching of Mathematics, and I continue to improve and update it as changes occur in the public schools. Basically, I have one semester to cover all of the practical "nuts and bolts" for how to successfully teach students math in grades 7-12. During MTH 395, the students create products including a first-day lesson plan and a syllabus that they will actually be able to use as they take on the task of running their own classrooms. Also, they teach mini-lessons to their peers and have a corresponding field experience which are designed to prepare them for demanding yet rewarding careers as math teachers.
Favorite Part Of The Job
I enjoy getting to know students through interactions in class, during office hours and through attending extracurricular activities whenever I can. It is exciting to see them accomplish things they never thought they could!
Having been a student at Mount Union, several buildings are special to me, but Elliott Hall is my favorite. I lived in Elliott during my junior year, and it was a quiet place to call home. My best friend and I had singles right down the hall from each other, the view of the lakes was gorgeous and the memories I made there were wonderful.
Mount Union Education
When I came to Mount Union as a student, I was told that I would not just be “a number” or a mere face in the crowd; professors would know my name and would care about my education. I found everything I was told to be true. Having experienced that as a student, and knowing how much it meant to me, I endeavor to give this same experience to my students.
Why Study Math
I found being a math major both extremely challenging and rewarding. I found the same with teaching. My first couple of years teaching at a local high school were difficult, but I survived them and then enjoyed several great years there. Now, at Mount Union, I teach a class (MTH 395) where I can share all of the mistakes I made so that my students can benefit from those mistakes and not repeat them! We need strong math teachers – ones who know their content and who also know how to relate to students.
Liberal Arts Education
When I was a student at Mount Union, I knew that I would enjoy my math classes and that I would like learning about how to teach students. However, I was very surprised that I also enjoyed many of my liberal arts courses. In particular, I would have never guessed that I would like sociology or theatre, but I actually ended up minoring in sociology, and I developed an appreciation for theatre that I never had prior to that. An education grounded in the liberal arts can truly helps to make a person well-rounded and broaden his or her interests.