I have a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and a Master of Science degree in Operations Research, a type of applied math. After graduation, I worked in industry for many years, traveling around the world. After becoming a mother and then spending many hours volunteering at ECS, I started to hear students say, “I’m just not good at math.” This was a shock to me, since I was convinced that they were more than capable of learning the material.
Middle-school-aged students are creating their own identities, figuring out their likes and dislikes, and figuring out where they fit in with their peers. Students at this age start labeling themselves and others, and these labels affect their attitude and thinking towards math. This is such a critical age to help students see that they can do math, and do it well. We are losing too many students in this age group to the “I’m no good at math” label, many of whom may keep that label or attitude for the rest of their lives. In our increasingly technological society, math has become critical to many fields of employment. Students we lose to the “I’m no good at math” label at such a young age have no concept of how this will affect their future. It doesn’t take much for students to “earn” this label, either by attaching it themselves or hearing it from other students – or, even worse, hearing it from a teacher.
To successfully engage students in the mathematics classroom, I believe they need a teacher who believes in them, believes in their ability to learn, and tells them that. They need a nurturing environment. They need positive reinforcement for learning new concepts. They need opportunities to interact with math beyond paper and pencil. They need to see how math is everywhere in the world around them. They need differentiated instruction to keep them all engaged. They need lessons and assignments tailored to their level of understanding. They need to be able to try out new concepts and get immediate feedback.
These students and others like them represent our future; I want to make a difference for them. I want to encourage them, motivate them, and teach them the beauty of math. By keeping them interested and engaged with math in a positive manner, I intend to enable these students to fulfill their true potential. I believe this so strongly that, in 2011, I went back to school to earn my Florida teaching certification.
My husband, Steve, and I have been married for 25 years, and we have two sons. Nicholas attended ECS from pre-school through 8th grade, graduated from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, and is now in college studying Industrial Engineering. My younger son, Peter, is in the 8th grade at ECS. I have coached MathCounts teams for five years, taking students on to the state competition for the past two years. My husband and I strongly believe in the importance of Catholic education and educating the whole child, and we feel very blessed to be a part of the ECS family.