Noyce Scholar Profile
Undergraduate major or graduate field of study: MAT, Mathematics
Subject area(s) and grade level teaching focus: Mathematics, grades 9-12
Category of scholarship/fellowship:
Noyce Teaching Fellow
Name of Noyce institution:
University of Georgia
Current academic or teaching status:
School and school district:
Student teaching, spring 2011
I am about to turn 40 years old and have a son Addison who is 10 years old. I am a single father and live in Metro Atlanta. For 15 years I worked as a professional Civil Engineer focused on storm water management, transportation, and geotechnical areas of the field. My roles during my 15 years as a Civil Engineer have focused on marketing, product development and implementation, research and development, sales, public outreach and education, and regulatory policy. I worked for three different construction product manufacturers who created innovative products for the construction market. When construction products are developed and introduced, a necessary component of increasing usage is to educate engineers, contractors, and regulatory officials about their use and design. I have always enjoyed the educational aspects of my roles. In October 2008 my employer faced layoffs due to the downturn in the U.S. economy, and my job was eliminated. Because the economic downturn significantly impacted the construction market, employment opportunities have been slim to none. Because I am a single father and have shared custody, I have decided to maintain my residency in Atlanta. Hence, this limits the job search to Metro Atlanta, an already highly unemployed area of the country. Changing careers to become a school teacher will allow me to maintain a close bond with my community, maintain my custodial time with my son, and hopefully have a stable job in this new career.
Why do you want to teach:
I enjoy teaching and helping people learn, and many people have always told me that I do well in these areas. People have said that I have a way of explaining and breaking down instructional steps that help them learn easier. The benefit of having a similar schedule as my son is nice as well.
Describe a memorable teaching experience:
A memorable teaching experience that stands out in my mind comes from a social component of my life, Argentine tango. I have been dancing social dance for about seven years and been avidly dancing Argentine tango for five years. Commonly in teaching there is a lot of teacher to student communication and while most of my experience has been in a lecture style, most of my experience in learning Argentine tango has been in an active, kinesthetic learning style. I would go to class about 2 to 3 times a week during my first 2 years. Teachers would talk, some more than others, then demonstrate, and the students would be expected to reproduce the teacher’s movements with a partner. Some students progressed, others struggled, and many teachers would then repeat the process over and over. One of my favorite teachers, Horacio, used a modified teaching style using lecture, demonstration, added an individualized assessment, and if more help was needed, added a new kinesthetic dimension to the learning experience. He would say the movement has a particular feeling, let me show you, and then led me in the movement. This has been equivalent to a “light bulb moment” for me. The energy conveyed in subtle movements is difficult to describe with words and is not always visible even with a trained eye. To fully learn and master the dance and movements, I think there has to be a kinesthetic transfer of knowledge. This has been very memorable to me. Outside of dance and other activities requiring body motion, I am not sure if there is a connection to subjects such as mathematics or science. Not everything being taught can be taught in just words and visuals.
What does the Noyce program mean to you:
When I was laid off work in October 2008, I thought I would be back to work within a few months. Never had I been without work over eight weeks during my 15 years of working. When the one year mark hit and the job prospects were very dim, I was not sure what direction I needed to go to get back on my feet and into a stable career. I had always wanted to go back to college to get a masters degree, but between parenting and work responsibilities, there was little available time, and the cost of education made going back to college almost financially impossible. Being unemployed for over a year and having to decide to sell my home to reduce my financial expenses was a very hard defeat to overcome. Therefore, if I were going to go back to school, I needed to find enough scholarship money to pay for the education. The Noyce program has allowed my dream of going back to school to become a reality, and it has helped to pay for the tuition. I have wanted to become more involved with the Noyce program, and although I have attended one regional conference, there is very little if any resources to get connected into the Noyce Fellowship community. With the requirements of teaching in a high needs school district, I still need help in identifying the schools and becoming educated about the issues we will face in these systems.