Noyce Scholar Profile
Undergraduate major or graduate field of study: Secondary Education
Subject area(s) and grade level teaching focus: Mathematics, grades 9-12
Category of scholarship/fellowship:
Master Teaching Fellow
Name of Noyce institution:
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Current academic or teaching status:
7 years teaching
School and school district:
Scottsbluff High School, Scottsbluff Public Schools
My hometown is Gering, NE. I received my bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and my Master’s at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. I have previously taught at Westside High School in Omaha, NE. Currently, I am in my 7th year of teaching and in 5th year at Scottsbluff High School. I am a track and field and football coach. I enjoy exercising, billiards, and video games.
Why do you want to teach:
My most vivid memory of elementary school stems from a day I had to stay home sick. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Moody, walked to my house at the end of the school day to deliver some books for me to read. It was one of the nicest things a person outside my home has ever done for me. Education is a matter I take personally and seriously. In my middle school years, my mother went back to finish her nursing degree. I used to complain about long hours in the hospital library. Every time I complained about my circumstances, my mother would say, “Education is the way out.” I hold fast to this belief. For my students, this particularly holds true. Professionally, my achievements are a byproduct of a string of excellent teachers whose influence has steered my life toward serving others. My most influential teachers in high school both taught math – Margaret Wirth, who now teaches at East Carolina University full time, but was then at J.H. Rose High School in Greenville, N.C., and Mike Smith, a calculus teacher at Gering High School. My cooperating teachers at Lincoln High – Don Olsen in math and Hilde Dale in ESL – were outstanding educators. My mentors at Omaha Westside – John Graff, a calculus teacher of 35+ years, and Phyllis Uchtman, a district staff developer – were the first to introduce me to the tenets of objective-based education. If teaching consists of begging, borrowing and stealing, then I have sinned countless times against these individuals. I owe all the thanks in the world to them.
Describe a memorable teaching experience:
Like many teachers, I enjoy helping talented students reach new heights; one of my former students, currently a doctoral student at the University of Michigan, was the first freshman student ever admitted to the honors math program at Michigan. My approach is to pour my full effort into each and every kid who walks through my door. My proudest moment in teaching thus far was in my student teaching experience. I had a student who had failed first semester Algebra 1 seven times. He was not going to graduate if he failed the eighth time. I invested ample time with this student, both inside and outside the class. He succeeded. Today, he has worked his way through the community college system and into a four-year degree program at a university. Students will respond to the expectations imposed on them, and I hold the highest expectations for my students.
What does the Noyce program mean to you:
My interest in the Noyce Master Teaching Fellowship program is both altruistic and selfish; altruistic in the sense that I wish to continue perfecting my craft to better serve others; selfish in the sense that I wish to achieve the prize held in highest esteem in academia, a doctoral degree. I crave improvement. I read a poem once about winning. It said winners are social anomalies. They do things that set them apart from the population at large. It’s not just that they are more than two standard deviations above the mean; they are willing to give their all even when no one is watching. Being a part of this program is, in my opinion, the next natural step in helping my students achieve their potential. When my students maximize their potential, they win, and I win.